In this installment of our series of one page guides for helping children to deal with difficult emotions, we look at helping children to deal with Grief. Click here or on the picture above for a pdf version of this graphic.
There are a ton of books out there for children who are experiencing their parents’ divorce. Many of them try to put a happy spin on divorce or can be summed up simply as telling kids that they “are not alone.” Both types of books do children of divorce a disservice either by trying to convince them that they shouldn’t feel like their world has been shattered or by sending the message that they should just “get over it” because there are plenty of people just like them who have gone through the same thing. Both minimize the experiences and feelings of children of divorce.
That is why I was excited to find Where Am I Sleeping Tonight: A Story of Divorce written by Carol Gordon Ekster, illustrated by Sue Ramá and published by Boulden Publishing in 2008. This book does a marvelous job of presenting the issues of living in two different homes following a divorce. It paints a realistic picture and still leaves room for hope. It balances the idea that kids can overcome the consequences of divorce without implying that the process is easy or that kids should just “move on.”
Make sure to check out the end of this article for an interview with the author.
About the Author
In our world today many children are experiencing early childhood trauma. We now know through a lot of research that childhood trauma can affect a child for the rest of their lives. The website ACEs too High (Adverse Childhood Experiences) explains through several articles and research reviews about how trauma in early childhood can affect a child’s behavior and health during childhood and can cause life-long problems.
We know that early trauma causes toxic stress on the brains of young children. So much so that the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement about this issue. They encourage pediatricians to aid a child who is experiencing toxic stress.
This means they will need to not only check a child for the normal ear infections, colds and administer the typical childhood immunizations, but they will also need to ask questions about the home life. In essence baby doctors have been told, “Your new job is to reduce toxic stress.”
We have schools that are becoming trauma informed schools. They are reaching out and changing the way they work with children with challenging behaviors and teens with out of control behaviors.
One idea for helping kids deal with fear and anxiety is to create a Worry Bot. The idea is simple and provides a way for kids to both talk about their fears and to track them.
Here’s how it works:
- Build a Worry Bot (or Worry Warrior or Worry Monster). Use can use any sort of boxes or containers so long as the child can put small pieces of paper in the Worry Bot and retrieve them later. We wrapped the lid on both the body and head of Worry Bot separately so it can be removed to insert and remove the papers.
- Have the child write (or draw) things they are worried or anxious about on the pieces of paper and put them inside the Worry Bot.
- As the child is recording their fears, talk to them about each one.
- Put the worries inside of Worry Bot. As you, talk to the child about ways they can deal with their anxiety.
- Revisit each fear with the child from time to time. As they express that they have moved past an item or overcome that worry, remove that slip of paper from Worry Bot and have the child throw it away.
This idea was originally inspired by Crayola and their Worry Worrier. You can find other examples by searching for Worry Monster. Use your imagination and work together to make your own Worry Gobbler.
We opted for a Worry Bot, and here’s how we put him together:
- The boxes for the body and the head (as well as the four “legs”) were craft boxes we bought from Hobby Lobby. We bought them for ease, but you could easily re-purpose some empty shipping boxes or anything else you have around the house.
- We used textured paper (also from Hobby Lobby) to give our Worry Bot more of a three-dimensional look. Originally, we had intended to wrap the boxes like gifts, but in the end used decoupage to attach the paper to the boxes.
- The arms were rectangular piece of paper folded with hands cut out of the black textured paper we used for the hat.
- The lettering was a cheap package of stickers which seemed easier than cutting them out individually.
- Add a face and a couple of wiggly eyes, and your Worry Bot comes to life.
Every year in the United States, roughly one million kids experience the divorce of their parents, witness the destruction of the only family that have ever know, and begin a new and fundamentally altered life. It is a life that was not of their choosing and a life that very few, if any, of them ever would have chosen for themselves. It is a life of constant transition – a life which reminds them over and over of their parents’ divorce. It is the beginning of a life, for many, that entails moving from the their mother’s home to their father’s home and back again over and over and over again. It is the beginning of a lifetime of switching hours. Each year between 18 and 20 million kids live the life of the switching hour. The Switching Hour: Kids of Divorce Say Good-Bye Again, published in 2008 and written by Dr. Evon O. Flesberg, looks inside the hearts and minds of the millions of kids who shuffle back and forth between the worlds of their divorced parents.
About the Author
Dr. Evon Flesberg works with children, parents, and families in her counseling practice in Nashville, Tennessee. She grew up in the Midwest, is ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and earned her Ph.D from Vanderbilt University where she is currently an assistant professor of the practice of pastoral care and counseling in the Divinity School.
Brief Synopsis of the Book
In this installment of our series of one page guides for helping children to deal with difficult emotions, we look at helping children to deal with Stress. Click here or on the picture above for a pdf version of this graphic.For more awesome resources for learning about and dealing with emotions, please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Emotions Help Center.
Generation X was raised in an environment where divorce was more rampant that at any other time in our nation’s history. That fact alone has shaped and molded an entire generation of children raised in “broken homes” and “step families.” Today, we are going to look at how divorce affected an entire generation of kids from their youth and well into their adult years.
A while back on the Wall Street Journal online, I found a testimonial that really speaks to what it was like to grow up as a child of divorce. The article by Susan Gregory Thomas, titled The Divorce Generation, recounts Ms. Thomas’ experiences in her own parents’ divorce, how that event has followed her throughout her life, and what it meant when she eventually divorced her own husband. In her story, we see many of the impacts that divorce has on children.
Her article starts with this sobering observation:
Every generation has its life-defining moments. If you want to find out what it was for a member of the Greatest Generation, you ask: “Where were you on D-Day?” For baby boomers, the questions are: “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” or “What were you doing when Nixon resigned?”Continue reading
What if a divorced single parent family suddenly showed up at your church and unknown to you they were involved in a reality show?
What if you found out, would you handle things any differently than when you didn’t know? Stop and think about that for a few minutes.
What attitude would you betray when you didn’t know? Most of you are probably saying, “It doesn’t make any difference as I love all children. I would welcome them like other children.” Really? Seriously? Because I’ve been at various children’s ministers’ conferences, and if I could see your face and expression right now, they would tell the real story – just as they do when I approach you at conferences about working with the child of divorce.
These are some of the comments I get.
- We don’t have any children in our community from divorced families.
- We aren’t allowed to say the word “divorce” in our church. I really do want to work with them but my hands are tied.
- Oh! Those kids! They are too out of control for me. No thank you!
- We tried but divorce kids don’t show up consistently, and their parent never knows what’s going on.
Just Breathe is an awesome short film from Julie Bayer Salzman & Josh Salzman that offers a kids’ perspective on anger and big emotions and how to deal with them.
They describe the video as follows:
The inspiration for “Just Breathe” first came about a little over a year ago when I overheard my then 5-year-old son talking with his friend about how emotions affect different regions of the brain, and how to calm down by taking deep breaths — all things they were beginning to learn in Kindergarten at their new school, Citizens of the World Charter School, in Mar Vista, CA. I was surprised and overjoyed to witness first-hand just how significant social-emotional learning in an elementary school curriculum was on these young minds…
As a filmmaker, I am always interested in finding a subject worthy of filming, and I felt strongly that Mindfulness was a necessary concept to communicate visually. Thankfully my husband, who happens to be my filmmaking partner, agreed. We made “Just Breathe” with our son, his classmates and their family members one Saturday afternoon. The film is entirely unscripted – what the kids say is based purely on their own neuro-scientific understanding of difficult emotions, and how they cope through breathing and meditation. They, in turn, are teaching us all …
God has a heart for modern-day orphans. Scripture is replete with passages about how God (and His people) should feel about and act towards orphans and widows. There are still way too many orphans in the world today, and these verse no doubt apply to them. However, there is also a new kind of orphan that these passages (at least the heart of these passages) also applies to. Let’s take a closer look.
God Cares for Orphans and the Fatherless
As Christians, our hope and prayer is that God would continue to sanctify us and make us more like Him. It makes sense then to first examine God’s own view of orphans and the fatherless. What is God’s attitude and actions towards orphans and the fatherless? What can we learn from that when it comes to ministering to children of divorce? Later, we will examine how God instructs His people to care for orphans and the fatherless.
God is Father to the Fatherless