How To Tell Your Children That You Are Getting A Divorce

Getting a divorce can be a challenging process for any relationship. When children are involved, it can make the situation a bit more complicated. You may be wondering; how can we tell the children? When do we tell our children? What do we say to them to make this as least painful as possible?

Here are some helpful tips that may help ease your situation:

1. Sit down with each other and decide on when the best time would be to tell your children. Should you tell them before or after your divorce is finalized? Make sure that you are 100% that you are following through with the divorce before you tell your children. You need to be unified parents and on the same page as much as possible for the benefit of your children. Having a family meeting can be most helpful with both parents present. Pick a time when both you and your spouse feel emotionally ready to share the news. You will both need to put your emotions aside (which I know can be difficult) and think about what is best for your children.

2. Avoid sharing information that is harmful to your children. Some details are not necessary to share with your children and often times the child will become confused. It doesn't matter who initiated the divorce or what happened. By sharing too much information may cause more harm to your child and the relationship they have with either parent. Tell them what they need to know (Where will they be living? When will they see each parent? Will they continue to stay at their current school?).

3. Be open in answering any questions your children have but refrain from blaming the other parent. Blaming each other for the divorce in front of your child or telling them whose "fault" it is may force the child to feel like they need to choose a parent's side. The goal is for the child to continue to grow their relationships with both mom and dad. Both parental figures have important roles in a child's life for them to thrive in the current divorce situation. Keep your thoughts to yourself or seek support from friends, family or a professional counselor.

4. Try to understand your child's feelings towards the divorce and listen to them when they want to talk. Put yourself in your child's shoes: how would you feel if your parent's told you that they were getting a divorce and wouldn't be living together anymore? Everything they once knew is going to be changing. Help your child process their thoughts and feelings and reassure them that you both love them and that this was not their fault. Many children think that when their parents are getting a divorce that it is something they did. Make sure to reenforce that the reason for the divorce is nothing to do with anything they said or did and that it is between mom and dad.

5. Communication is key. As difficult as it may be, having clear communication with one another is the most beneficial for the children during a divorce situation. Letting each other know how the kids are doing and working with one another for scheduling and conflicts is helpful. Try to work together and be unified in establishing boundaries and expectations for one another and for the children. Predictability is helpful for everyone involved. If there are things you don't agree upon, communicate with one another and try to resolve the issues before things escalate.

6. Self-care for both parties. Each of you need to stay as calm as possible and make sure that you take care of yourselves. Divorce brings a range of emotions and it is important that you are taking care of yourself both physically and mentally in order for everyone to get through this challenging time. Make time to do things for yourself as you work thorough the grief process.

If you feel like you are struggling with various emotions of divorce or need help finding ways to facilitate various areas of divorce (telling your children, identifying ways for parents to work together, or children having a difficult time with divorce), seek a professional counselor's help.

Life Balance Counseling in Schaumburg has several counselors that help work with divorce situations. Feel free to call our office at 888.234.7628 or

Pet Loss: How To Help Your Child Cope With Grief

Losing a loved one is a challenging experience for adults and often times can be very confusing for children because they are unsure of the various emotions they are experiencing. The loss of a pet may be your child's first experience with grief and is a great opportunity for parents to teach their child/children healthy ways to cope with grief.

A child may feel confused, sad, angry, or guilty and blame themselves for their pets death. A child may feel scared that other people or animals they love may leave them and may feel anxious or worried. Some parents feel they need to protect their child/children from experiencing their feelings. Parents may tell their child that the pet ran away or went to sleep to make their child feel better. Tell your child in an age appropriate manner of what happened to the family pet and help them learn to cope with their thoughts an feelings during this confusing time. It is better to be honest with children and allow them to experience grief in their own way with your guidance.

When it comes to the loss of a family pet, how do we help children cope with their thoughts and feelings?

  • Parents need to express their own grief and loss of the pet. Don't hide your own thoughts and feelings towards the loss of your pet. Model your thoughts and feelings and the healthy ways you cope with grief. 
  • Let your child express their grief. Let your child feel their emotions and offer them support and guidance during the process. Don't tell them not to cry. It is okay if they feel the need to cry.
  • Educate your child about grief and loss and reassure your child. Help your child understand that the death of their pet was not their fault. Reassure them that other people they love are not going to die and talk to them about their feelings and concerns.
  • Allow your child/children to be a part of the memorial for the pet. This helps the child/children learn about closure and honoring the pet. This will help the child process their thoughts and feelings towards their loss.
  • Have your child write a letter or draw a picture for their pet. This is a helpful way for your child to say their goodbyes and get their feelings out about their loss.

If you feel like your child/children is struggling with their thoughts and feelings in relation to a pet loss, contact a Licensed Counselor and discuss ways to help your child cope with their loss. 
At Life Balance Counseling in Schaumburg we have a Certified Grief Counselor that can help. Feel free to contact us at 888.234.7628 for any help and guidance.

Positive Parenting

Do you feel frustrated or annoyed with your child/children’s behavior? Have you become the yelling and nagging parent? It is no surprise how overwhelming it can be when your child doesn’t listen, has temper tantrums, and does the opposite of what you ask. Repeating and reminding gets frustrating and then you may start yelling. Afterwards you may feel guilty, like the “bad” parent and are unsure of how to break this cycle.

I did a great webinar the other day on "Positive Parenting Solutions" with Amy McCready. I learned a lot from the webinar and felt it would be helpful to share some of her concepts and positive parenting solutions.

Kids core emotional needs are based on attention and power. If they don’t get their dose of positive attention and power they become whiney, clingy, or act helpless. Need to feel a sense of control of their little world. When they feel powerless they will act out in ways to gain attention. Power rush to get parents all bent out of shape. This can become quite frustrating for parents. You may say something like "if you keep whining, you are going to go in time out," or you have until 3 to stop whining or else we are not going to your friends house." Giving a Time-out or counting 1-2-3 creates a power struggle and your kids learn that they don't have to listen the first time.

A parent's yelling, punishing, bribing, nagging may help in the short term but your child/children's same behaviors end up occurring over and over again. Nothing seems to get better. Misbehavior is never just a kid problem. Parents play a core role in their child/children's behavior and if we don’t address ourselves we wont change the behavior and make things better for our whole family.

"The 5 R’s of Consequences

Respectful: the consequence must be respectful, which means no blaming, shame or pain. For example, "you never listen, you should be ashamed of yourself." Use a calm voice and if you can’t be calm don’t deal with the issue it in that moment.

Related to misbehavior: the consequence needs to relate to the misbehavior (i.e. if you are not brushing your teeth, then anything that might turn to sugar is off limits for eating for the rest of the week).

Reasonable in Duration: the consequence should be age appropriate. For example, a 4 year old – throwing toys, it would be reasonable to take toys away for the day. For a teen that may be texting during dinner the consequence could be be taking their phone away for a week.

Revealed in Advance: the consequence should be revealed to the child in advance which will allow the child to have the power to make a choice. Explain to the child that the appropriate behavior is …. and the consequence is …. This is a win-win because it gives the child the choice but parent sets the limits and guidelines.

Repeated Back to You: the agreement between the child and parent. The child repeats back to the parent what the behavior and consequences will be so that everyone is on the same page and there is an agreement in place." - Amy McCeary

For more information and more helpful Positive Parenting Solutions, visit

Who Said Parenting Would Be This Challenging?

My parents made it seem like parenting was a piece of cake and provided me with no warning signs of the challenges that may lie ahead. Parenting is such an awarding experience but presents many ups and downs based on your child's age, temperament and personality. Parenting strategies that may work for one child may not work another. There are a couple main parenting concepts that are essential to creating happiness between a parent and child.

First and foremost, keep your emotions in check. Become mindful of what triggers your emotions. What buttons does your child push that makes you feel angry or frustrated? Before screaming identify the emotion and use breathing techniques or other tools that will be helpful in keeping calm. Screaming at your child is not going to get your point across about how you want them to behave. Think about what your child is learning from you as you scream at them. As a parent you are the most influential role model. Take your role seriously!

Clear Expectations: Clearly defining your expectations is key in helping your child understand how they should behave and what you expect from your child. Communicate to your child what is expected of them in an age appropriate manner. This will change based on the child's age and when your child gets older your expectations may need to be modified.

Consistency: you have to employ rules and disciple consistently through every challenge. If you are not consistent your child may not clearly understand your expectations. If one day you expect your child not to hit their siblings and they get a time out or something taken away and the next day they do the same thing but don't get disciplined this will send a conflicting message and the child won't understand how they should be behaving.

Both parents need to be on the same page with the same expectations and consistency. Otherwise your child may try to manipulate one parent and play off of both of you. Kids are smart and will do what it takes to get what they want. Parents need to support each other even if they don't totally agree with the discipline. You can discuss your approach later.

Overall, children strive on structure, boundaries and expectations. It may be difficult at first to establish these ground rules and basic practices, but once you do everyone will be happier! It is not always easy being a parent, but you are in control of making things better. You can do this!

If you feel you need additional guidance with parenting, seek a licensed counselor that can help you implement effective expectations, communication and consistency and hold you accountable for your parenting style!