Middle school is an awkward time of life. Your child is already going through a lot of changes, such as moving to a new school and going through puberty. It can be especially difficult for middle schoolers when their parents get a divorce.

If you find yourself dealing with this situation, become familiar with the emotional impact and possible responses your preteen or teen may have to the divorce. This age group may respond in anger to situations that upset them. This means you need to be ready for more tension and arguments. There may also be quite a bit of resentment. Of course, each child is different, so your child may not respond this way.

Regardless of the reaction your child has, here are some tips for helping them deal with the end of the marriage in a constructive way.

Maintain open communication: Do not shut off from your child. Allow him or her to express feelings and discuss what is happening. Answer questions your child has, and be willing to discuss anything. Keeping communication open can help your child feel better because it shows you are not hiding anything or keeping secrets.

Keep relationships on track: It is too common for children to experience separation with one parent during a divorce. This is detrimental to the child-parent relationship, and also to a child’s development. Work hard to ensure you and your spouse both remain constants in your child’s life by negotiating a parenting plan that allows both of you ample time to maintain a healthy relationship.

Do not allow bad behavior: The divorce may occupy a lot of your time, but it is equally important to make sure you pay attention to your middle-school child. You do not want him or her to develop bad habits or bad friendships just for the sake of attention-getting. Monitor your child’s behavior and step in when it becomes destructive or dangerous.

By maintaining meaningful connections and focusing on your middle schooler, you may be able to help them get through the divorce without psychological scars.