imageIn ministering to children from disrupted homes, we stress the need to empathize with what the kids are going through – not sympathize! This great video is one of the most succinct explanations of the difference between empathy and sympathy that I have found.

The video makes some great points, and I encourage you to watch the whole thing (it’s only 2:53 long after all).

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image Welcome back to our discussion of different techniques you can use to help children to identify, name and deal with their emotions. So far, we have looked at different tools for helping kids to name their emotions and a candy based game that helps kids to think about times and circumstances that have made them feel certain emotions.

This week, we look at a very simple game you can play with any child to gain some insight into what they are thinking and feeling. The game is simple, and we call it The Superpower Game. You ask the following question:

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

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turkey-504378_640 Thanksgiving, like many holidays, is hard on children who come from disrupted homes. On top of the normal stresses that come with a holiday season, children of divorce face stark reminders of how their family has changed, and most face a day without at least one of their parents. While many of us will be pondering and remembering all the things we have to be thankful for, these kids are likely lamenting another holiday which serves to remind them just how much their life has changed. So, if you know a child from a divorced or otherwise disrupted homes this holiday season, there is still something you can do to bring a little bit of light to that child’s holiday.

So, here at Divorce Ministry 4 Kids, we are encouraging you to do the following this Thursday for Thanksgiving:

  1. Pick a child from a disrupted home (particularly those kids who might currently be going through their parents divorce. This can be a child from your ministry, from your neighborhood or from your family. And, you are of course more than welcome to do this with more than one child.
  2. Get the child’s contact information for where they will be Thanksgiving day. Call their parent(s) and ask. Get cell phone numbers, land line numbers, e-mail, Facebook account, Instagram account, twitter account or whatever other way you can get in touch with them.
  3. Sometime on thanksgiving day, contact the child. Call them on the phone. Send a text message. Post online and tag them. Whatever works, but the more personal the better.
  4. Let them know when you contact them that you wanted to take a few minutes on this special day to let them know that you are Thankful that they are in your life.
  5. Ask them how their holiday is going, and provide encouragement where needed.

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image As we discussed last week, getting kids to talk about their emotions plays a huge part in helping them to process those emotions and get past them and move on with their lives. And, when you can combine that process with candy, well that just creates an all-around great situation. That why we were so excited to come across the M&M emotion game at http://radathome.blogspot.com/2013/11/m-feelings-activity.html?m=1.

In this game, you use snack sized bags of chocolate covered candy (M&M’s) in order to get kids talking pdf to share rightabout their emotions. You and the child (or every child if you are working with a group) starts with one fun-sized bag of candy. On your turn, you pull one candy out of the bag and share an emotion/experience based on that color. Only after sharing do you actually get to eat the candy.

In this version of the game, you had to do one of the following depending on which candy you pulled out of the bag: Continue Reading…

In working with children of divorce, you will find that they are either dealing with emotions they have never felt before or dealing with an intensity of emotions they have never felt before. Either way they are ill-equipped to deal with those emotions, and in order to minister to them, you will need to find ways to help them process through those emotions. The first step in helping any child deal with difficult emotions (whether those be from the dissolution of their parents’ relationship or any other trauma) will be to help them recognize and name the emotions they are feeling. This week, and over the next several weeks, we will be looking at a number of ways to help kids identify and name the emotions they are experiencing.

pdf to share leftSome of these techniques and methods are very simple and provide you with insights into how the child is feeling. Other ways are more in depth and include you working more directly with the child. The one thing all of these methods have in common is helping children to recognize the emotions they are experiencing and putting a name to those emotions.

This week, we are going to look at several tools available online to increase a child’s “emotion vocabulary.” These tools are all useful both for kids who have been through some sort of traumatic life event and for giving any child a more robust emotional vocabulary. Much of what we learn about emotions is based on our own life experiences, and kids do not have those experiences in order to understand many of the emotions they are feeling. The resources presented in this article can be used in a number of way: Continue Reading…

image In our world today many children are experiencing early childhood trauma. We now know through a lot of research that childhood trauma can affect a child for the rest of their lives. The website ACEs too High (Adverse Childhood Experiences) explains through several articles and research reviews about how trauma in early childhood can affect a child’s behavior and health during childhood and can cause life-long problems.

We know that early trauma causes toxic stress on the brains of young children. So much so that the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement about this issue. They encourage pediatricians to aid a child who is experiencing toxic stress.

pdf to share rightThis means they will need to not only check a child for the normal ear infections, colds and administer the typical childhood immunizations, but they will also need to ask questions about the home life. In essence baby doctors have been told, “Your new job is to reduce toxic stress.”

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image Recently I was ministering to a lady that was new to our area. She was from another state and had just moved here. She said she had to get out of an abusive marriage so she came to live with a relative and for some peace and quiet while she sorted out her thoughts.

I am always for trying to save a marriage. Unless the children are in an unsafe environment and the mom’s (or dad’s) safety is at risk, then I will mention the possibility of saving a marriage. As per my normal questions, I asked if there was any hope her marriage could be saved. She almost shouted at me, “NO! I’ll never go back! Not after what he has put me through.”

pdf to share leftI offered to take her through a program called “Choosing Wisely Before You Divorce.” It is about saving one’s marriage. I’ve used it several times. It has some thought provoking questions that help one sort through their feelings wisely before a couple divorces. I’ve seen several marriages saved with this program. If a marriage can’t be helped then this program gives helps for setting some boundaries for oneself as the couple moves towards divorce.

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imageIn our world today many children experience what is known as an emotional concussion. Emotional concussions can be just as lethal, and sometimes even more so, than a physical concussion.

Emotional concussions occur when young children live in dysfunctional homes controlled by alcohol, drugs, explosive tempers and homes full of stress. They happen when children live with dysfunctional adults and with people who are physically, emotionally, and/or sexually abusive. Divorce can also be a major cause of an emotional concussion.

From the ACEs Too High website we find, Continue Reading…

imageWouldn’t it be wonderful if every little kid who had divorcing parents showed up in your class stress free? There would be no fighting, arguing or yelling. All the kids would want to be involved. They would want to form community and care for one another. The group would ooze kindness.

Impossible you say? I beg to differ. Many children who live in divorcing and stressed out families don’t know how not to be stressed. It is their way of life and, like we’ve said before, they will bring that chaos and stress with them. However, there are things we can do to alleviate some of their stress.

I want to share a few important tips I have learned down through the years. Continue Reading…

imageEvery child of divorce is different and unique, and how you work with and for that child must be tailored to their personality, circumstances and environment. That said, there are some common things that all children of divorce need. If you work with kids, you need to be prepared to offer these to them. Likewise, as the church, we must work to ensure that our ministries and our congregants are equipped to offer these six basic needs to children from disrupted families.

1. LOVE

The first thing every child of divorce needs, indeed every child for that matter, is adults in their life who love them and model the love of Christ for them. While a divorce will not cause parents to love their children any less, it will cause children to question whether their parents still love them. On top of all that, the emotions and stress that comes along with a divorce takes time away that parents might otherwise spend with their kids and may leave parents emotionally drained and incapable of adequately expressing their love for their children. As a result, children from disrupted families are often left with a love tank on empty and desperately seeking attention and affection. Find appropriate ways to show the child of divorce that you are there for them and that you love them. Demonstrate the sacrificial love of Christ to them and for them. Read 1 Corinthians 13 and challenge yourself to show them love as defined in that chapter. You may be the one person in the life of a child from a disrupted family that keeps that child from seeking love and attention in destructive places.

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