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Sleep problems often affect children of divorce

It's not unusual for children whose parents are going through a separation or divorce to have problems sleeping, even if they haven't previously or since they were very young. They're no doubt feeling at least some level of anxiety. Moreover, they are likely moving back and forth between houses. They have to get used to a new bedroom and new bed.

There are some important steps you can take to help your child sleep and prevent this from becoming a long-term issue. It's tempting to let your child crawl into bed with you. It's probably comforting for both of you. However, it can be a hard habit to break.

Instead, make your child's room as comforting as possible. Soft music or an ambient noise machine may help. A favorite doll or toy is always soothing. A nightlight is often a good idea.

Let your children express their anxieties and ask questions, even if it's not pleasant for you. Kids see things in terms of how they impact them. Reassuring your children about all of the things that will stay the same in their lives can eliminate many of their anxieties. They especially need to know that both of their parents still love them and are there for them, even if perhaps they now live far away from their other parent.

Discuss your child's sleeping issues with your co-parent. It's best if you can agree to establish similar bedtime routines for your kids regardless of whose home they're in. If you find things that are particularly comforting to them, make sure that they have them in both homes. You may also agree to let your children spend some time video chatting or talking on the phone with their other parent before they go to bed.

If problems sleeping begin to impact your children's lives, you may want to consider seeking therapy for them. Kids are often more open to discussing their feelings about divorce with someone other than their parents because they're afraid of upsetting them. Your family law attorney can likely recommend one or more experienced child therapists in your area.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "4 Tips for Helping Your Child Sleep During a Separation," accessed July 21, 2017

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