Separation of a child’s parents can be a traumatic experience in any child’s life. The child can feel as if their world has been turned upside down. However, if effectively managed, this traumatic experience could be diluted to being another change in the child’s life- yet still significant.
I write this article with great passion, so as to express that no matter who is leaving whom, the end result and the most important aspect should be the child’s welfare and protection. If both parents can jointly explain to the child that there will be no major changes, and the child will still be seeing both parents, this can ease the worry or stress that the child may experience. Children thrive on routine, and their life that they lived when both mum and dad were together should try to remain the same.
Those that stay together only for the sake of their child, is just as toxic as not staying together as a unit. This would be due to constant arguments in front of the child creating a feeling that it may be the child’s fault.
A child however young can pick up instantly on the atmosphere around them. If one parent is unhappy or there is tension between each parent the child will know about this, even if you try not to show it.
No matter what age the child is, the breakdown of their parent’s relationship will always be a big event. It is the reaction of how you end your partnership that will determine the effect on the child.
NLP can provide children and parents going through separation a great deal, showing them that changes in life are common, and managing our emotions is the most crucial part to this.
One of the main steps is Communication between both the parents and most importantly the children involved. The children concerned should be encouraged to express their emotions, however positive or negative they may be. Children should be given the opportunity to express their feelings of separation or generally how they feel as they too are going through the separation. This continued support of enabling the child to express their feelings should continue throughout the child’s life.
Another great technique to use is Metaphors. The use of metaphors in story telling is where the child is taken a level away from the problem. The main components (feelings during the parents separation i.e.; uncertainty, frustration, loss, sadness, anger, missing out etc..) will be listed in column one. For the second column a symbolic word will be used for each word in the components list and finally the third column will be a symbol for everything in column two. From the third column we are able to compose a story. This story when told to the child will just seem as that…. a story. Here the concept is to confuse the child’s conscious mind, the story will appear to make no sense allowing the unconscious to become available and embed the relevant message.
The final technique that I believe would benefit the entire family going through the separation is the concept of Perceptual Positions. This technique is generally used in a conflict situation. I believe this technique to be beneficial for a child as it would allow the child’s thoughts to be played out, and how they believe the situation is evolving around them. This type of situation can be used using dolls/ action figures with young children. Asking the child to act out being the mother, then the father, and then themselves. The 1st position –the child would be associated in the problem, the 2nd position the child would be associated to the mother, the 3rd position- associated to the father, and the final position associated as the observer position. Then at the end, the child would go back to being themselves, and asked how they feel now about the situation.
These techniques suggested above will allow the child to understand and manage their emotional behaviour in a positive manner. Providing love and support to the children involved will help them deal with such difficult situations.
By Tina Sidhu