When parents face divorce or separation, it can be very stressful to break the news to children. Last month I had developed a parent-friendly handout on talking tips for parents to help them stay child-focused when facing this particular life change. For readers of my blog, you know I love finding children’s books that help jumpstart the conversation with children. This blog post is about another great title for children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old to help normalize the feelings they might have once they are aware that a change is happening in their lives.
The reason I chose this book for this post is because it highlights how seemingly innocent events can sometimes add up in children’s minds as linked to or having caused what is happening. The book written by Sandra Levins and illustrated by Bryan Langdo is a paperback title with 40 pages. It is published by Magination Press from the American Psychological Association. You can get your own copy below.
In the book, a young boy recounts the story of how his mother and father don’t live together anymore because of divorce. He explains divorce as “the grown up word for when mommies and daddies decide not to live together anymore. They tell the kids they’re sorry, and one of them moves somewhere else.”
He goes on to explain that his mommy moved out.
“It was because I smeared chocolate pudding all over my brother.”
Throughout the book, the young boy reconstructs the events of his parents fighting after the boys had accidentally smeared the pudding all over the place. The boy says the peel off lids were stuck on tight and when he tried to open them, it splattered on the wall! Shortly after that incident, his mommy moved out.
As adults we sometimes forget how the young mind works. This book provides a way to show children that grown up problems, like divorce, are never a child’s fault. The book shows how the parents come together to explain to the boy and his little brother.
As always, I love books that include a section for parents because of the practical tips and additional resources. The Note to Parents section penned by Jane Annunziata, PsyD includes information about:
how to explain separation and divorce to children,
how to support and help children to cope with strong emotions
including handling anxiety,
loss/sadness, anger, loss of control,
regression and acting out, and loyal conflicts.
The book can be used to revisit feelings or as the child processes what is happening. It can be confusing and children can begin to act out because of changes in routine, caregiving and overall consistency. And don’t forget that even if you read it once, you may need to read it several times to provide gentle reassurance.
If you’ve read or used this book, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below. Let’s chat!