Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Establishing new Routines after a Family Separation

If your family has experienced separation and you are the parent who remains to care for the children, you may want to establish new routines and a new sense of independence. The transition may be tough and children may test you as you try out new routines. They also may regress in some areas such as potty training or sleeping through the night. Parents who remain should be physically close and emotionally available to the children, which can be tough to do as this can be a stressful time for you as well.

Dr. Karen DeBorg from the North Carolina State University Extension suggests a few tips to help during this time:

• Establish a new routine, and then keep it consistent. Consistency adds to feelings of safety and security for children.

• Provide physical closeness and more focused attention, such as in reading together, taking walks together or cooking together.

• Build a new support network that also supports the children.

• Respond in brief by honest answers to the child who has questions. Don’t share details that children may inflate in their imagination.

• For teens, maintain limits and provide opportunities for added responsibility without over-burdening them.

• Notify your child’s teachers about the family changes.

• Adults should find leisure outlets for themselves – physical movement as in walking or biking, hobbies, or civic-related activity like volunteering to help others.

• Some young children need transitional objects (a favorite doll, blanket, or cuddle toy) to comfort them and help them feel safe. Don’t make fun of these nor take them away for punishment. These are very critical to their sense of self and their adjustment. Be aware when they retrieve these items and be sensitive to why they needed them more at some times than others. Be there to add comfort to your children’s world.

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