Supporting children through unexpected events:
Separation and divorce
Family separation brings significant changes to a child’s life. Offering comfort, reassurance, and consistency as you work through changes can help children draw on their natural resilience. Each family situation is different, and it’s important to build a support network to help you navigate through potentially challenging and stressful periods.
How can I support my child?
Seeking support from professionals with experience in family separation can help you work through relationship and legal matters in a way that best supports your child’s and family’s needs.
Communication with your child about the separation or divorce should be age appropriate. Children are receptive to the tone and non-verbal cues used between family members that indicate conflict. As infants and young children’s language and communication skills are still developing, they require simple and consistent messages from caregivers that offer comfort, reassurance, and consistency. As children grow and their language develops, they will understand more of what is happening around them.
Be mindful to keep conversations about the other parent neutral and limit details that are not necessary to share with your child. Children exposed to details surrounding the reasons for separation can experience more mental health and well-being problems. A family counsellor or psychologist can be a good place to seek more support on how to communicate with your child, considering your specific circumstances.
When to seek help
Children are generally very resilient. As with any change in your child’s life, most reactions will reduce over time with support from families. However, if as time goes on and your situation has stabilised, and you continue to have concerns for your child, it may be possible that your child is still experiencing significant distress and may require additional support. If your child requires specific support and interventions, you can:
1. Go to a General Practitioner (GP)
2. Ask your GP for a Mental Health Care Plan
3. Through a Mental Health Care Plan your child will be able to access psychological appointments which are free (or at minimal cost) after the Medicare rebate.
4. After your first 6 sessions you may need to return to your GP for an assessment of whether ongoing treatment is recommended and to extend your Mental Health Care Plan if needed.
How can G8 support you and your family
If you are going through family separation, it’s best to talk to your centre manager about your circumstances, so our team can be sensitive to the needs of your child and your family.
It is important that your centre manager understands what court orders or other parenting agreements may be in place, particularly where these relate to arrangements for pick up, drop off, access to your child or information about your child.
If you are experiencing financial distress, you may be eligible for Additional Child Care Subsidy. Read more information here and talk to your centre manager about how we can help.