Kimmel Education & Research Center

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension

A sad young boy with his parents fighting in the background

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Children Go Through the Grief Cycle During Divorce or Separtation

Even though you may not realize it, divorce or separation will cause your children to go through the same stages of grief that you are experiencing. To the child it is much the same as if there was a death in the family. Each parent or child experiences grief in their own way.

Using steps as an analogy, there are five steps to the grief cycle. Sometimes the steps are steep, sometimes steps are repeated, sometimes you may stay longer on one step than others.

Step 1  Shock and Denial Stage – Your children have a family life that , to them, is “a normal way of life” even if there is conflict. As the family moves from normal functioning through divorce or separation, the children first moves into a shock and denial stage.  They have to work to understand the divorce and what is going to happen as a result of the divorce.  Parents can help to reinforce the reality of the divorce at this stage and to emphasize that some things will not change – such as the love for your child and that you will be there for him or her.

Step 2  Anger Stage –  Next they move into a stage of anger.  In this stage parents need to provide support and be there for their children, but understand that this is just part of the grief cycle.  They need time to work through their anger and guilt. They will sometimes pick one parent to be mad at and not at the other parent. Know this is normal. Let them know that you understand they are anger and continue letting them know you love them.

Step 3 Depression Stage – As the children sense that their life is falling apart they may withdraw and feel sad and detached from their family and friends. As a parent you need to differentiate between sadness and depression.  If as a parent you are concerned that your child is depressed, you may need to get help from a professional.

Step 4  Dialogue & Bargaining Stage – As the children move into the dialogue and bargaining phase, they will try to get the family back together.  They will fantasize about reconciliation and will promise to be good if their parents will just reconsider.  They may even devise ways to get the parents together such as being sick or getting into trouble at school. This is their way of working through the guilt of feeling that they were the reason for the divorce or separation.  Remind them they did not break up the family and it is not likely that they can get the family back together.  This too is part of accepting the permanence of the divorce or separation.

Acceptance Stage – Reaching the acceptance stage means that the child has adjusted to the reality and permanence of the divorce and separation.  It may also mean, especially for the older children, they are ready to take a chance on love.  The entire grief process is one of dealing with loss and requires that children overcome the sense of rejection, humiliation, unlovability, and powerlessness that they feel.

As your children are working through the divorce process encourage the children to maintain their normal schedule and activities.  Never put the children’s lives on hold.  It is important to remember that children go through the grief cycle at different speeds.  Some children will be so glad that there is no more conflict, they will not go through the grief cycle.  It will depend on each individual’s situation and the personalities of each child.

Technology and Our Children

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Technology and Our Children

By LaDonna Werth
This last weekend when we visited grandma’s house my little girl pointed to the phone ringing on the wall and said, “What is that mom?” She was very surprised to find out it was and rotary phone with a cord on the wall. She was so familiar with smart phones she had never experienced the “old fashioned” technology that was on the wall at grandma’s house.
We are raising digital natives, (“people who have grown up in social conditions where digital technology has been an integral part of their lives” (Prensky 2001)) this statement became a reality to me at grandma’s house. So how does this affect me as a parent, teacher, and wife? I started to think of how my actions with technology and how technology is affecting my children. Then I realized it is not going away! I need to embrace and enhance my teaching with technology. The next question was what did I want to teach my children? I wanted to teach them digital literacy and digital citizenship.
My children are naturally drawn to technology like most children are. Yes, there is an unquestionable role as a parent and teacher to teach our children how to use technology. We have to find ways to effectively and appropriately integrate technology into our lives as a tool and not a bad experience.
Common Sense Media suggests 5 ways to find a healthy balance on media and technology.
Be a role model. When children are around, set an example by using media the way you want them to use it. Keep mobile devices away from the dinner table, turn TV off when it’s not being watched, and use a DVR to record shows to watch later.
Start good habits early. The secret to healthy media use is to establish clear time limits and place, and stick to them. Consequences should be device related with misuse leading to device. Start when your children are young by setting screen limits that work for your family’s needs and schedule. You may avoid technology during mornings with getting ready for schools since it is hard to separate children from devices. And, don’t just talk the talk – walk the walk!
Use media together. Whenever you can, watch, play, and listen with your children. Ask them what they think of the content. Share your values, and help children relate what they learn in the media to events and other actives in which they’re involved. We can also teach them to be critical about commercials. With older children, you can draw them out by sharing from your Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Keep distractions to a minimum. Get rid of the stuff that distracts you from your child. Turn off your dings and vibrates when you are interacting with your child. Let them know that they are more important than the devise. Hide your apps so they don’t display, set your phone to “do not disturb,” or shut down your devices during important family time.
Turn off work. Many parents feel they need to be constantly accessible to their jobs. But that’s stressful, frustrating, and not realistic. Set boundaries for work time and family time.
Learn to use features that protect children from misuse. For example most devices have settings that limit the use of the internet or the app store without an adult. Some devices help track use time. Locking the iPad to one app. Of course setting passwords and NOT sharing them with the children. The learning curve is huge but the payoff is well worth the time invested for you and your children!

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Spring Cleaning with Young Children

Author: Lisa Poppe, Nebraska Extension – The Learning Child

Spring is the time of year for cleaning. Your young children can help with cleaning tasks, especially when they are members of a team that works together. Such activities help children focus on a task, talk about what needs to be done and follow through until completion. These experiences can promote a sense of competence and show children that everyone benefits from teamwork.

Spring Cleaning Tip #1: Make it a family event and give them jobs to do.

• “Sorting anything…let them dust or wash windows (at least the bottom half!)…beat rugs outside (burns off winter energy)…make it a family event and give them some choices so they feel part of the project.
• Small children have short attention spans, so try setting aside one morning a week to tackle a spring cleaning project.
Spring Cleaning Tip #2: Be patient, even if it takes longer to clean.
• Children want to do whatever we’re doing. Remind yourself it’s a great opportunity to teach them how to clean and care for your home
Spring Cleaning Tip #3: Give the kids their own cleaning tools and supplies.
• Make dusting into a game. Give your children their own duster. They love to follow along behind you and dust whatever surface you just dusted – or really anything they can find.
• They also love helping wash windows or anything that lets him use a spray bottle!
Some tips from Moms…..
• “Give them a spray bottle with 50/50 water/vinegar to wash walls, windows etc. if they are little, follow with cloth to wipe down the surfaces, if older, they can spray and wipe.” – Liz, Michigan
• “Old socks on hands for dusting.” – Theresa, Michigan
• Jenny from North Carolina suggested getting child-sized cleaning supplies for spring cleaning with small children.
Spring Cleaning with Small Children Tip #4: Crank up the music.
• “Add music! Dance your way through it!” – Amy, Michigan
• We make it into a cleaning party with loud music. At any time, one of us calls out “dance break” where everyone stops what they’re doing for a moment of silliness and dancing.
Spring Cleaning with Small Children Tip #5: Lower your expectations.
• Getting kids to participate is a breeze when you inject some fun and foolishness into household chores. Just make sure to assign age-appropriate tasks that can be achieved in short increments (ten to fifteen minute spurts for younger children), and things will be spic and span in no time! If you start kids at a young age and keep things fun, they’ll enjoy pitching in — it gives them a great sense of accomplishment, collaboration, independence and responsibility.
Here are some ideas for indoor and outdoor big jobs for the home and early childhood setting. With the right tools (small buckets, sponges, rags, child-size shovels and rakes) and adult supervision, children can work together to complete big jobs.

At home
• Try on summer clothes and donate items that are too small.
• Sort through toys and books and decide which ones can be donated.
• Vacuum and sweep closets.
• Sort items for recycling, such as newspapers, cardboard, plastic milk jugs and metal cans.
• Sweep patios and porches.
• Pick up sticks and leaves from the yard.
• Spread new mulch on flowerbeds.
• Turn over dirt in the garden area.
• Spread grass seed and hay over bare areas in the yard, then water newly seeded areas.

At school
• Dust toy shelves.
• Select new clothing items for the pretend play area.
• Wash tricycles and other toys for outdoor play.
• Clean outdoor play equipment.
• Sweep outdoor play area.
• Pick up sticks and leaves from the playground.
• Prepare an area for planting a garden.
• Spread grass seed and hay over bare areas in the yard, then water newly seeded areas.
• Fill a birdbath with clean water.

Source: eXtension and

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The ABC’s of Baby’s Zzzzs!


Did you know that sleep is the primary activity of the brain during early development? As a matter of fact, sleep is a critical part of a baby’s healthy growth and development; especially a baby’s mental and physical health. So what are the healthy sleep patterns for infants? How long should your baby be sleeping?
Typically newborns will sleep between 10.5-18 hours a day. Their sleep cycle is irregular and usually depends upon their need to be nurtured, changed or fed. By six months of age, nighttime feedings are usually not needed and therefore infants sleep through the night (9-12 hours). The following are a few sleep tips all parents should consider as your baby catches his or her daytime or nighttime ZZZs.
Sleep Tips for Newborns
• Put baby in crib when sleepy NOT asleep. They’ll eventually learn how to get themselves to sleep
• Encourage nighttime sleep by playing with baby and introducing them to light and noise during the day while they are awake
• Take note of baby’s sleep patterns and signs of sleepiness (rubbing eyes, crying, fussing)
• Always place baby on back to sleep. Be sure baby’s head is clear of blankets or other soft objects to help prevent Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID)
Sleep tips for Infants (3-11 months)
• Create an enjoyable and consistent bedtime routine (song, bath, pajamas, book reading)
• Develop a ‘sleep friendly’ environment free of noise, toys and other distractions (grandmothers included!)
• Try to avoid irregular daytime and bedtime schedules
• Put baby down to sleep when drowsy to encourage baby to become a ‘self soother’ and to fall asleep independently.
The most important sleep tip for parents is to explore the following resources to learn more about healthy sleep and its benefits for you and your baby:
American Academy of Pediatrics
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Sleep Foundation

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Effective Networking: A Key Success Factor for Small Business Owners


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