Teaching the 4 Big Skills™ to Your Child During Divorce

mother hugging small boy

Teaching the 4 Big Skills™ to Your Child During Divorce

©2020 Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

Divorce and separation are times of stress for both parents and children. Parents often don’t know how to talk to their children about divorce, living in two homes, rules and traditions with separated parents, and other new ways of operating. This course was designed to help parents start these difficult conversations.

Building on what the parent has already learned in the New Ways for Families online course, this course focuses on conversations that the parents can have directly with their child. Now that the parent themselves has learned The 4 BIG Skills™, they are in a better position to talk to their child about the divorce or separation, role modeling appropriate behavior and using appropriate language.

*Note: the New Ways for Families online course is a prerequisite to the Parent-Child course. Parents first learn the skills in the New Ways for Families course, then teach those same skills to their children in the Parent-Child course.

Skills for Children

Teaching children these skills will help him or her solve problems in everyday life, at school, with friends, with family members, as well as to cope with stressful circumstances related to divorce or separation.

Today, more than ever before, children face rapidly changing times in a rapidly shrinking world. Conflict and change is inevitable. The children who will be most successful in the future will be those who grow up with the most solid foundation of skills – to keep learning and improving what they do.

The 4 BIG Skills help children deal with specific family problems, such as divorce or separation. These are also good relationship skills, work skills and leadership skills. This course gives parents many opportunities to practice talking to their children about these issues and demonstrating the skills.

The 4 BIG Skills™

  • flexible thinking (acknowledging that there is more than one solution to a problem, acknowledging that people are not “all-bad” or “all-good”)

  • managed emotions (controlling one’s anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety; learning to calm oneself when upset)

  • moderate behaviors (avoiding extreme actions)

  • checking yourself (reminding yourself to use these skills when you feel yourself getting upset)

Course Goals

This online course is designed to:

  • Teach the child to use The 4 BIG Skills™ during this time of rapid change

  • Make the parent-child relationship stronger and less stressful, opening the door for honest and supportive conversation about the future

  • Help the parent guide their child through this time of transition with less stress, less anxiety, and a more stable foundation for moving forward

  • Parents should think of this class as helping them to feel confident in teaching their child to be resilient no matter what problems he or she faces in the future.

Course Activities

Teaching the 4 Big Skills: This course includes activities that parents can do with their child throughout each of the classes, with each class focused on one skill. The course provides lots of tips for easy ways to teach children these concepts.

Many of the activities will focus on helping the child with a simple activity, such as putting pictures from magazines into a scrapbook or on a paper bag with examples of children and adults using these skills. The activities will help the parent discuss with the child which behaviors are okay (moderate behavior) in a situation and which behaviors are not acceptable (extreme behavior).

Sample Language: The course includes examples of words parents can use to explain concepts to their child, and questions parents can ask their child to help get these discussions going.

The Five General Age Groups: All activities, discussion questions, sample language, and examples are provided for each of the following age groups:

0-3 years         4-6 years         7-11 years       12-17 years     18-25 years

Course Outline

Unit 1: The 4 Big Skills for Life

  • Parent-Child Talk

  • Living in Two Houses

  • Children in the Middle

  • Extreme Behaviors

  • Managing our Emotions

  • Flexible Thinking

  • Rules in Both Houses

  • Age Appropriate Tips

  • Talking to Your Co-Parent

Unit 2: Managed Emotions

  • Benefits of Managed Emotions

  • Ways to Manage Emotions

  • Calming Intense Emotions

  • Emotions are Contagious

  • Age Appropriate Tips

  • Managing Emotions with your Co-Parent

Unit 3: Flexible Thinking

  • All-or-Nothing Thinking

  • Your Child’s Thoughts

  • Solving Problems

  • In Divorce/Separation

  • Making Proposals

  • Changes in Your Family

  • Age Appropriate Tips

  • Using Flexible Thinking with your Co-Parent

Unit 4: Moderate Behavior

  • Regretting Extreme Behaviors

  • Trying Moderate Behaviors

  • New Behaviors with the Other Parent

  • Checking Yourself

  • Age Appropriate Tips

  • Moderate Behaviors with your Co-Parent

Bill Eddy headshotBILL EDDY, LCSW, ESQ. is the co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of the High Conflict Institute in San Diego, California. He pioneered the High Conflict Personality Theory (HCP) and is viewed globally as the leading expert on managing disputes involving people with high conflict personalities. He has written more than twenty books on the topic and has taught professionals in the U.S. and more than ten countries. He is also the co-host of the podcast, It’s All Your Fault!

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