Helpful tip for starting a new school year: Kids of divorce and clutter



Many children of divorce live hectic and frenzied lives. This is partly due to the fact that they

  • live in two separate homes
  • have two different sets of rules
  • experience different schedules
  • have different rituals
  • have different people in the home

The stress factor is another reason their minds are filled with chaos. Too much stress can confuse us as adults so imagine what stress does to a child’s mind.

Clutter, you know that mess that has been building up in the corner the last few weeks or months, can cause confusion and can actually add to disorder and behavior issues in some children. Cleaning up the clutter goes a long way in calming children that live in stress filled divorcing families.

Organizing clutter on the outside helps children organize the thoughts in their brains. In other words creating a simple uncluttered environment helps many children feel organized and can stimulate calmness in them.

Children with stressed filled lives need cleanliness

Kids of divorce miss the message we are presenting because the visual stimulation is too great. If a child tends to be ADHD, all that stimulation is too much for their brains to handle. Since some children of divorce mimic ADHD symptoms, all that stimulation can be too much for them to handle also.

What parents can do

  • If  your child is overwhelmed with the mess, help him or her straighten their room
  • It might be prudent to remove several toys from the room at least at the beginning of the school year
  • Show them what  you expect
  • Take a picture once the room is clutter free and post it in their room

What churches can do

It is great that churches want to spice up their children’s ministry rooms with visual scenes and lots of bright colors, but for many children of divorce (and several diagnosed behavior disorders) that visual stimulation actually takes away from their ability to listen and to focus.

  • These children need calming colors around them.
  • Sky blue, lavender or a soothing shade of green works best to calm chaotic kids.
  • Yellows and reds are great to stimulate creativity but they also tend to excite children. Those are also the colors that stimulate the appetite and are great when you want to encourage a child to eat. (Think major fast food places and yellow arches.)
  • They need to have organization surrounding them.
  • Post only a few pictures with various shapes and sizes around the room at the beginning of the new school year. You can add more later on when the kids have gotten into a routine and feel comfortable. (Remember it may take kids of divorce longer.  Due to visitation issues many will only drop in occasionally.)

What message does it send to the child of divorce when it’s September but the VBS name tags from the first week of summer are still hanging on the wall? These kids are hyper sensitive in not feeling wanted. Something like that communicates to them that they are not wanted at church. Nor have the leaders have prepared for their attendance.

Cleaning up clutter will go a long way in helping children live calmer lives with calmer behaviors.


A version of this post first appeared in on September 9, 2012

DC4K blogs posts are great to use in training children’s leaders and volunteers and they are free.  Subscribe to the DC4K blog here.

Want to learn more about how to start a DivorceCare for Kids group for the hurting children in your community? Click here.

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