Tips for parents

Supporting Children through Tough Family Times: Tips for Parents

It’s important to be honest with your children during tough family times, but it’s crucial to consider their age and emotional maturity. Children should know what is happening, but they don’t need to know all the details.
21 February 2023

Family is the cornerstone of our lives, and our childhood memories shape who we become as adults. Unfortunately, not all families are happy and harmonious, and sometimes hard times may come, such as divorce, death, illness, or financial difficulties. These situations can be overwhelming for adults, let alone children, who may not understand what is going on or how to cope with their emotions. As a result, it’s essential to know how to help kids during tough family times, and here are some tips:



Be honest and age-appropriate

It’s important to be honest with your children during tough family times, but it’s crucial to consider their age and emotional maturity. Children should know what is happening, but they don’t need to know all the details. Explain the situation in simple terms and answer any questions they may have truthfully, but without overwhelming them with information.

For example, if a family member is gravely ill, you can explain that the person is sick and needs to go to the hospital to get better. You can also reassure your children that doctors are doing everything they can to help them get better. If it’s a divorce, explain to them that sometimes relationships don’t work out, but parents still love their children and will always be there for them.

Keep routine as much as possible

During tough family times, it’s essential to keep some sense of normalcy in your children’s lives. This means keeping their daily routines as much as possible, such as regular meals, bedtimes, and activities. Children thrive on routine, and it can provide them with a sense of security and stability during uncertain times.

Provide a safe and comforting environment

Children need to feel safe and secure during tough family times, so it’s important to create a comforting environment for them. This could be a favourite spot in the house or a special activity you can do together, such as reading a book, watching a movie, or playing a game.

Encourage them to express their feelings

It’s crucial to encourage children to express their feelings during tough family times, as bottling up emotions can be damaging to their mental health. Allow them to talk about their feelings, even if they are difficult to hear. Let them know that it’s okay to cry or to feel angry, and reassure them that you are there for them.

Seek professional help if needed

Sometimes, tough family times can be too much to handle on your own, and seeking professional help can be beneficial for both you and your children. A therapist can provide guidance and support and help children cope with their emotions in a healthy way.

Practice self-care

It’s essential to practice self-care during tough family times, as your emotional state can affect your children. Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy food, and seek support from friends or family members.

Provide age-appropriate books or resources

Books and resources can help children understand what is happening and give them a sense of comfort. Look for age-appropriate books or resources that can help your children understand the situation and provide them with tools to cope with their emotions.

In conclusion, tough family times can be challenging for both parents and children, but it’s essential to provide children with support and guidance during these times. By being honest, age-appropriate, and creating a comforting environment for them, encouraging them to express their feelings, seeking professional help if needed, practicing self-care, and providing age-appropriate books or resources, you can help your children navigate through tough family times and come out stronger on the other side. Remember, your support and love can make all the difference in helping your children through difficult times.

Further readings:

  1. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry: Helping Children Understand and Cope with Divorce.


  1. Child Mind Institute: How to Help Children Through a Family Illness.


  1. Psychology Today: How to Help Children Through Difficult Transitions.


  1. The New York Times: How to Help Children in Tough Times.


  1. Verywell Family: How to Help Your Child Cope with a Family Member’s Illness.