Going back to school can be a very exciting time for a kid. They get to see friends they have not seen in a couple of months and they get to relive their summer through the stories they get to share. When family issues arise, going back to school can become very stressful and daunting for them. Kids do not know that no one knows that their parents were just recently divorced. Kids have a very self-centered view of the world, so kids may feel different when they head back to their familiar setting. They may think that they are being stared at or even made fun of behind their backs.
We have discussed the importance of co-parenting, even if you are not getting along with your ex-spouse. Kids need to be reassured by both parents that they are loved and that nothing has changed for them in school. Their friends will still be their friends.
In some cases, after a divorce, the kids may move and therefore start in a new school. This can make a difficult situation tougher. Kids are now dealing with two levels of stress: the stress of a new school and that internal thought that their parents’ divorce has somehow effected them.
Whether your kids are in a new school or staying at their old school, it will help if your kid’s teachers and principal know of the situation. They can be your eyes and ears in school to make sure your child is not having difficulty or even acting out in school as a reaction to the divorce.
Many schools now have support groups for kids of divorce. Seek out these groups. They are a great way for kids to work through their issues in a school setting and learn that even though their parents are no longer married, they are still loved and when it comes to school, nothing has changed.
It is very common for children to have behavioral issues after a divorce. There are some things you should be looking out for, including issues concentrating, signs of low self-esteem, inappropriate behavior in and out of the classroom, underachieving in the classroom or in other extra-circular activities, or significant changes in your child’s normal behaviors.
You cannot possibly be there with your kids throughout the day so have to rely on the school to let you know about behaviors as they happen and not wait until a report card or parent-teacher conference, which could be months after the behavior is noticed.
When kids are younger, or if they have developmental delays, such as autism spectrum disorder, they may not know how to express themselves. They may not even know how to express how they are feeling. This is what leads to changes in behavior or even signs of anxiety or depression. Work with your kids’ teachers and with the school’s psychologist to help your kids work through this new part of their lives.
Your kids may need more attention than usual during this transition period. Don’t just rely on their words, but watch their actions and listen to the feedback from the school. Keep a positive attitude at home regardless of what is going on with your ex. A positive and nurturing environment is important for kids to know that even though there are major changes at home, those changes are not their fault, and you are still there to support them.