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Divorce is traumatic enough for kids as is, but many suffer a double whammy: an abrupt move to accompany their parents’ new relationship status. It’s a lot for a vulnerable child to handle, especially if moving means switching schools. Follow these steps to ease the burden:

Consider the Pace of the Change

Change comes quickly after divorce — not all kids can keep up. If possible, give your children plenty of time to process the big news and prepare for your move. A summertime move will minimize disruptions.

Encourage Involvement in Extracurricular Activities

Nothing cheers up a struggling child quite like new friends. Breaking the ice can be nerve-wracking at school, however. Enroll your kids in after-school activities to hasten this essential process. Athletics are especially valuable for forging strong bonds — and physical activity will provided a much-needed endorphin boost.

Help Your Kids Maintain Old Friendships

Your children shouldn’t be forced to choose between new and old friends. Encourage them to keep in touch with buddies from their former school. Exchange email addresses or telephone numbers. Schedule Skype visits. If old friends live nearby, arrange for play dates. Otherwise, meet halfway at a zoo, amusement park, or other fun destination.

Confide in New Teachers

Meet with new teachers as soon as possible. Explain your situation and how it might impact your child’s behavior in school. In particular, mention how your child feels about the move, behavioral problems at his or her previous school, and potential academic challenges. Continue to keep teachers updated as your child transitions. School staff can offer valuable insight throughout the school year. Other resources include counselors, administrators, and coaches.

Don’t Make Light of Your Child’s Struggles

As parents, we tend to forget the trauma of changing schools. It’s not easy for your child to start over. Show empathy for the new challenges your kids face. Remind them that you’re happy to help them through this transition.

As you help your kid settle into a new school and routine, look to the law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. for assistance with child support, custody, and visitation issues.