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Del Morrill, M.S. C.C.H


A Center for Counseling & Hypnosis
Tacoma, Washington, USA
(253) 752-1506

Divorce & Child’s Reaction


     I’d like some help with a 4-year-old boy, whose parents divorced. Both share custody and have a loving commitment to share in his upbringing.   They go out to eat at least once a week as a family, and engage in family-time with him.  Mom says that when she picks up her son after his 3 or 4 days with his father, he is rebellious towards her and has even hit her once or twice.    She feels that the anger towards her is because she is not there everyday with him.    She has good ideas and we have shared discussions. However, I told her about your expertise with children and that I would seek your opinion. have you had any experience with a child this age in a similar situation.


     Yes, I’ve had more than one child in my office who has struggled to adapt to divorce in the family.  Here are a few ideas for someone this young.  

     With a four-year old, I would suggest some role playing with stuffed animals or dolls or both, naming one of them Mother and one Father (whatever he calls them), and one indicating himself.  Have his “counterpart” go to visit each “parent” and carry on conversations to get a feel after what he is going through.      

     Personally, I doubt it’s because his mother can’t spend that time with him. However, I might be wrong – it could just be his difficulty in getting used to not having both parents together.  He may even fear losing one of the parents, or not being welcomed into one of the homes.  Dad may be making comments about Mom that are negative. It might even be possible that the child is being mistreated or neglected at his father’s place, and, thus, takes it out on his mother because she “should” have prevented it.  It’s important to find out what’s really going on in the situation with Dad.  If any abuse is involved, then mother needs to know.  Who knows, it could be the reverse – she might be the difficult one, and he doesn’t like coming back to her.  The play-acting may help find out.

     It’s important to try to get as good a reading as you can from both parents.  I try to get both parents to come to one of the first visits with the child; in this case, probably at separate times.

     This particular child is a bit young for traditional hypnosis, but you could also have him draw or color the life he has while you ask questions.  The coloring activity provides a focus that puts a child of that age into a sort of hypnotic trance, making it easy to receive suggestions concerning his parents both loving him dearly, and wanting him to be happy at each of his homes, etc.

     Also, you might have him lie on his back and take him into dreamland, where he tells you a story about where he is. You can have him meet animals who can give him advice about himself and his parents. If he isn’t a child who is willing to dialogue with you while in that position, then tell him a story – take him on an adventure in which he goes with a best friend or his pet, and meets special people who endow him with courage, confidence, happiness, understanding, etc.

     Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head. Let me know how it all goes.





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