Tips for Parenting 6-8 year Olds

Posted by onlinedivorce on April 14th, 2017

Through Separation or Divorce

Children 6-9 years old respond with a variety of emotions and coping mechanisms, which are unique from other age groups.


Children 6-8 years old respond most often with grief. They express their grief through cryingand sobbing. They also feel a deep yearning for theabsent parent. The parent who is missing is usually the father. The children will miss that parent intensely,even if their relationship with the parent was not good before the breakup.


Anger felttoward the absent parent usually will not be expressed, since they don’t see him or her as often. Their anger will be toward the parent that is present because they spend more timewith that parent. They may blame that parent for the absence of the other parent. When contact with the absent parent is limited, children at this age often believe that the parent has stoppedloving them. This reaction causes emotional trauma.

Signs of Emotional Distress

Young children often hope mom and dad will get back together and believe this will happen someday. They may feel that it is their job to take care of the parents in spite of theirown emotional needs. Many children try to solve problems between parents. They will try tocomfort them. It is not proper for children to reverse roles and act like parents. Early signs that yourchildren look and act “fine” canbe misleading.Emotional problems relatedto breakupsoften appearmuch later.

Consequences of Conflict Exposure

Research tellsus thatchildren are negatively affectedwhen theysee theirparentsfighting. Itaffectstheirideas about howpeople solve problemswith each other.When parents continueto fight, children become aggressive toward otherchildren. Childrendonot getused tothefighting. Instead,thefightingwearsthemdown. Physical fightingisespeciallydamaging.Childrenwill copytheirparentsand hit other children.

Manyyoung children carry a serious burden when parents breakup. There can be a “tug ofwar” on their emotions, especially when parents try to get children to take sides. Some parents may tell their children that the other parent is bad; that the other parent caused the problems. Each parent may really believe this simple view, but it isprobably not correct. Children caught in the middle are the most likely to lose this war.


•    Avoid pressure on the children to take sides.

•    Nevercriticize the other parent in front of the children.

•    Reassure children that bothparents still love them, and they will be taken care of even if mom and dad do not live together.

•    Enable children to spend time with the absent parent.

•    Let children know it is okay to love the absent parent.

•    Encourage older children to spend quality one-on-one time with each parent. They need this time as much as young children do. Most of them are very sad that they cannot spend more time with their non-residential parent.

•    Young children are not sure if their parents still love them, so they need more love and support along the way.

For more parenting tips see Parents can take further training on how to reduce conflict and minimize damage to their children during a divorce through the Center for Divorce Education’s Children In Between program.

Parenting Infants and Preschoolers Through Separation or Divorce. See Part IV for Tips on Parenting Older School Age Children.

For more information about Divorce Class California please visit at

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