Families Change
Parent Guide to Separation & Divorce

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How do I figure out what my children are feeling?

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It can be helpful for your children to figure out and name what they’re feeling.

If your children are feeling new or strange emotions because of your divorce, naming those feelings can help them handle it. When your children can put a name to a feeling, several good things happen:

  • A strong feeling can be overwhelming and strange. Putting a name to the feeling can reduce the anxiety.
  • The part of the brain the controls language is different from the part that relates to emotions. By naming a feeling, the brain has to switch gears into the language center. This can help your child to express a feeling with a more controlled and positive action.

To help your kids identify their feelings:

  • Watch how your kids are acting, how they are carrying themselves.
  • Say things like, “It looks like you’re feeling sad/frustrated/disappointed/angry/scared.”
  • Don’t judge them or make them feel bad. Your goal is to help them figure out what they’re feeling.
  • Take notice of welcome feelings like happiness and joy, too!