This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about divorce. The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Divorce. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.
BrainPOP Jr. receives many e-mails from children asking about divorce. Many children have families or know families that have gone through divorces. We hope that the Divorce movie will help address children’s concerns and clear up any misconceptions about divorce. Explain to children that all families change over time. Some families move to new homes or cities. Other families change with the birth or adoption of a new child or when extended family members move in with them. Help your children understand that changes are normal and should be expected, but that not all changes are easy.
A couple that fights and cannot resolve their problems may decide to divorce each other. A divorce is a legal end to a marriage and the parties involved are allowed to marry other people. After a divorce, a couple will separate and may move to different homes or even cities or states. Many children have divorced parents or know people with divorced parents. Explain that divorces are never easy decisions, but may be the best solution. The parents may fight less and be a lot happier. Help your children understand that when parents divorce each other, they do not divorce their children. Parents love and care for their children no matter what, even if they do not live under the same roof.
Some children believe that divorces are their fault. They may think that getting bad grades or misbehaving led to their parents’ divorce. Remind children that divorce is never a child’s fault. Most couples work hard to resolve their difficulties and may even talk to a counselor, therapist, or other people specially trained to help people with their challenges. Still, divorce is sometimes the best solution. Also help your children understand that divorces cannot be prevented. Even if children get good grades and behave perfectly at home and at school, parents may still get divorced.
After a divorce, a parent may remarry. A stepmother or stepfather is somebody a man or woman marries after a divorce or death of a spouse. Some stepmothers and stepfathers have children from a previous marriage. These children are stepbrothers and stepsisters to the child. Because divorces cause big changes in families, some children may misbehave and act out against their new families. Help children understand that feeling angry, confused, or sad is normal and they can find ways to cope with their feelings and resolve problems.
Divorces can be tough emotionally for families and strain relationships both inside and outside the home. Children can discuss and share their feelings with close friends and family members. They can also talk to teachers or school counselors. A counselor can give teachers techniques to help a child through difficulties while he or she is at school. However, this can only be done with written permission due to confidentiality issues. Both parents and children should be honest about their feelings with each other. If one parent behaves in a way that makes the child sad, angry, or scared, the child should communicate the problem. If no one knows about a problem, then he or she cannot help. Most of the time, just talking about a problem can make a child feel better. In addition, writing in a diary or drawing can help a child cope with a problem. We recommend watching the Writing About Yourself movie together as a review. Exercise, such as walking or riding bikes, can help get a child to release anger and stress.
There are a few basic strategies you can use when talking to a child about a difficult topic. Be a good listener and allow the child to complete his or her thoughts. Talk to the child at eye level. Always acknowledge the child’s feelings and communicate that no feelings are wrong. Try to make suggestions that coincide with their interests and are reasonable, attainable, and within their abilities.
Children who have friends going through divorces can offer their support and their ears. Listening to a friend and giving hugs are easy ways for friends to help each other through tough times. Encourage your children to reach out to friends or classmates who are feeling sad or angry. Just knowing that friends are there for support can make someone feel better.