Why I Created This Kit:
My parents divorced when I was five years-old. As a child, I remember having so many feelings and emotions about my parents’ separation. Splitting time between parents and having two houses can be a challenge. The biggest issue for me was being away from friends when I visited my dad out of town. But, there are lots of resources that can make life easier on kids and adults in the situation. And, this new lifestyle can actually make the bond between parent and child even stronger!
Books For Discussing This Topic
Dinosaurs Divorce (Ages 3-8)
Authors: Laurene Krasney Brown and Marc Brown
A dinosaur family talks about lots of issues that are associated with divorce including divorce words and what they mean, having two homes, living with one parent, telling your friends and celebrating holidays.
Two Homes (Ages 3-7)
Author: Claire Masurel
Two Homes does not focus on divorce, but rather the two homes the child will now have. It’s a simple and positive book that works well for the littlest ones.
Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child’s Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce (Ages 3-7)
Author: Tamara Schmitz
Addison knows that his parents love him even though they are going through a divorce. He discovers that having two homes is like having two strong feet to stand on!
It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear (Ages 3-7)
Author: Vicki Lanksy
This “read-together” book helps the child process divorce as it follows a family of bears through the separation. Each page spread also has tips and suggestions for parents as we read the book with our child.
An App For Exploring This Topic
- Katie Loves Everybody Together (Ages 1-7)
- Publisher: PicPocket Books
- Katie Loves Everybody Together! shares how one family deals with their marital separation. Written in the voice of two-year-old Katie, this story captures the innocent reactions and pure emotions experienced by toddlers and young children during divorce. See how one family works together to create a positive transition.
- Divorce Social Story
- Publisher: Touch Autism
This is a simple and short story about divorce. It provides lot of visual support for those with Autism spectrum, Downs Syndrome or other special needs.
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood- Life’s Little Lessons Album
- PBSKids does a great job of tackling feelings and emotions through their character Daniel Tiger. This album if full of songs that little ones will relate to: “What Do You Do with the Mad that you Feel?”, “When Something Seems Bad, Turn it Around and Find Something Good!” and “When you Feel so Mad that you Want to Roar”.
- Here is a clip of one of the songs, “When Something Seems Bad, Turn it Around and Find Something Good”.
- Hoot Owl Hoot (Ages 3+)
- Publisher: Peaceable Kingdom
- Divorce requires a lot of cooperation from all family members. Here is a fun game to teach little ones about cooperation. Everyone playing the game works together to get all the owls in the nest before the sun rises.
- Sesame Street: Little Children, Big Challenges- Divorce “Big Feelings”
- Music is a great way for kids to express themselves. In this song video, Gordon explains to Abby that it’s ok to have big feelings about her parent’s divorce.
Create A Time Capsule!
As a child of divorced parents, it can be easy to think a lot about the way things used to be when the family all lived together. Kids tend to spend a lot of time dwelling on the past and feeling sad. But, there is so much to look forward to in the future.
Help your child look forward to the future by making a time capsule together. A glass jar with a lid, a shoebox, or a plastic storage bag make good capsule containers. Add photographs, drawings and trinkets about their life now. Encourage your child to answer questions such as the ones below and add them to the capsule.
- Who are your friends?
- Who is part of your family now?
- Who will be part of your family in the future?
- Where will you be living in one year? Five years?
- What kinds of things do you like to do?
- What would you like to learn how to do in the future?
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
(Question suggestions come from the University of Missouri.)
Decide where to place the capsule and when to open it. Possible ideas could include on a birthday in five years, graduation or one year from the day the capsule is “hidden”.
Start New Family Rituals!
A newly designed family benefits from some new family routines! Try creating a family ritual such as a family dinner book club. Each month select one book to read together as a family. Then create table decorations to compliment the book, plan a special theme related dinner and come up with a few conversation starters related to the book.
You might try reading Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White together. After reading, make placemats that look like barns. Then kids can create farm animals from recycled materials to place on the table too. Hang a yarn spider web from the light fixture for extra flair. Plan a fair menu including corn dogs, potato salad, watermelon and apple fritters for dessert. Talk about why Charlotte was such a good friend to Wilbur. Discuss what qualities each person in your family looks for in a new friend.
For more Family Dinner Book Club ideas, visit Growing Book by Book series. Your child will be craving family bonding time and this is a great way to create a new family routine with the kids.
Helpful Parenting Resources
Here are some more parenting resources to help children process divorce that you might find useful.
- Little Children, Big Challenges- Divorce Tool Kit from Sesame Street is full of advice and resources for helping young children cope with divorce.
- Making Divorce Easier on Your Child: 50 Effective Ways to Help Children Adjust by Nicholas Long and Rex Forehand provides practical advice for parents on dealing with issues including talking to children about divorce, managing stress, communicating with the child's other parent, single parenting, and building a support network.
Jodie is the mom of two young boys, creator of Growing Book by Book and literacy consultant. She has taught in early childhood, elementary and college settings. Her specialty and passion lie in early literacy. Jodie has also served as a reading specialist, literacy coach, and administrator in several urban public settings. Her greatest pleasure is nurturing our youngest readers.