A divorce can be a painful experience for both spouses, and may be particularly destabilizing for children and teenagers. It can result in anger and anxiety as young ones attempt to struggle to understand something beyond their control. It may even turn their lives upside down.

Teenagers are especially susceptible to the pressures of divorce during this stage of their developmental. As a result, the potential for increase risky behavior is high.

5 Ways to Help Your Teen Deal with Your Divorce

1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff 

Don’t get caught up in all the little, everyday drama and pass that anxiousness on to your teen. Fighting every little petty battle that comes along with your former spouse or teen may weaken your relationship with your son or daughter. Play the long game and stay focused on staying connected. Keep your  channels of communication open.

2. Stay Positive

You teen is looking up to you as their role model. You don’t have to hide that fact that you may be feeling down or a bit anxious now and then, but staying positive even when things are tough is good modeling behavior. It will help your teen to be more resilient as well.

3. Be Patient

Most teens in general, are going through emotional ups and downs as part of their development.  However, now they also having to work through their parent’s divorce and find balance living or visiting the homes of their now single parents. Have compassion for their plight.

4. Provide Supervision, Structure and Support

Your teen may say they want total freedom to do whatever they want, but they don’t. They are looking to your for structure and guidance during tough times. Don’t let them act out because you feel sorry for their situation and blame yourself. More than ever, they need to see that you are strong, consistent and in control.

You can help connect them to other positive role models, such as a coach, youth group leader or member of religious leader. Mentors can help play a positive role in their growth and development, especially during this difficult and transitional period.

5. Set up Routines

Just as you need normalcy in your routine, so do they. As much as possible, keep them involved in the positive activities they’re accustomed to. Beyond staying focused in school, remaining a part of their sports teams, staying consistent with guitar lessons and staying connected to their peer group will provide them with a steady hand rail as they figure out the new dynamic at home.

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

This is a tough time for you as well – take care of yourself. If  you are not first taking care of your needs, you won’t be able to be physically and emotionally available to your teen. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Get enough sleep (7 or more hours)
  • Practice routines (this will help make your life seem more balanced)
  • Get outside into the fresh air (it will make you feel good)
  • Exercise – it releases stress (go to the gym, take a walk, take a bike ride)
  • Talk to those you can confide in regularly (friends, family or professionals)