Q: “I am recently divorced and my 8-year-old son has really been having a hard time. Sometimes he does not want to go to his Dad’s house because he says that is not his bedroom. He has started to have anxiety and gets mad easily. We are trying to work together, but nothing seems to be working. Do you have any suggestions that we are not thinking about? ”
A: Change can be difficult no matter what age. Divorce is never easy for anyone involved and the time it can take for children to adjust can vary greatly. It does sound like you and your son’s father are working together to figure out the best plan for your child and that is absolutely the most important piece that you can be doing. I have worked with several different parents and kids going through this situation and cooperation between exes can be hard to achieve, but when you can do this, you are truly putting your child’s needs before your own.
Routine is helpful in these situations and knowing what to expect. Divorce can be traumatic for kids and we want to keep things as routine as possible. One way to do that is by your child knowing what is happening that day and night. As a divorced parent myself, there are days when you don’t know whose day it is and who is picking up from school and what time are you getting them after school? Lots of questions and concerns in any given day. It can be hard enough as adults to keep up, much less an 8-year-old boy.
I think it could be helpful to ask if your child wants to bring any of his things from your house to Dad’s house. Try thinking about what can you do to make that bedroom feel more like his? Perhaps he can go pick out some new sheets or something decorative for his room.
I am a social worker and I am always going to say that counseling is a good idea. This could be good idea for your child or you. You talked about how angry he can get and that anxiety is at a high. A good counselor can help your son learn some strategies that can help him control his anger and anxiety. Mindfulness and deep breathing exercises are so helpful in working with both of these issues. When we can teach our kids coping skills for when we feel like something is too much for us to handle, we are preparing them for real life. We are giving them tools that will help them cope the rest of their lives instead of turning to unhealthy coping skills later such as drugs or alcohol.
I also do not think it would be a bad idea to talk to the guidance counselor at your child’s school because counselors sometimes have groups that are for kids going through something like this. By being with other children going through similar situations, it can normalize what is happening to them a little and make them feel like they are not alone. At the very least, this could be another person checking in on your child too.
I think it is important to explore a little more why he does not want to go to Dad’s house. See if you can get him to explain that a little more and you never know it could be a very simple fix. I think you are doing great and time along with support with carry you both through this new chapter in your lives.
Join our list
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.