Bouncing back from a divorce can be just as hard for kids as it is for adults. According to a recent study at Ohio State University-Mansfield, a marriage that's breaking up harms children's self-esteem and academic performance even before the split occurs. But while self-confidence will rebound with time, test scores sometimes continue to decline.
The reason? Unlike a child's emotions, which tend to be more resilient, poor study habits and grades are a problem that snowballs. If a child doesn't learn the skills she needs, it's hard to catch up in the next grade.
"Divorce is a process, not just an event," says the study's coauthor, Yongmin Sun, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociology. So while it's inevitable that your split will affect your child, you can help minimize damage by doing the following -- both before and after the divorce:
Shower her with lots of personal attention.
This will give her a break from household tensions and show her that she's still loved. Even such small gestures as going for a walk together mean a lot to your little one.
Be aware of how she's feeling about school.
Something as simple as asking about her day or how you can help with her assignments can work. But set aside time every day to talk about what she's learned in class.
Both you and your child can benefit from speaking to a professional -- it can often make problems easier to discuss.
Attend as many school events as possible and talk to teachers so that you're in the loop about your child's classroom performance.
Hire a tutor.
He can pinpoint and address whatever academic problems your child's having and help her catch up to her peers. Ask teachers, friends, or your local library for referrals.