Children love knowing that you are thinking of them while they are not with you.Writing a letter (e-mail is good, but a letter in the post is even better) will go a long way in making them feel connected to you.
Make sure that the letter is about everyday things, happy moments and things you are planning for the future. Compliment them on specific things they did well, tell them what you are proud of, or love about them. It means so much more to hear:
“I felt so proud when you helped that old lady in the shop. Did you see how she smiled at you and how the other people in the shop stopped to look at what you did? I could see how caring you are and I love you so much”
Rather than just a vague statement without any context.
Never make promises you don’t intend to keep. Don’t use the letter as an opportunity to bad mouth the other parent or to discipline your child or tell them how upset or disappointed you are in them. Your letter is not a platform for unhelpful feedback. The purpose is to connect and remain connected with your child.
Encourage them to write back – but if they don’t, they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about it.
These will form a memory base from which your child can draw, even when the two of you are not together.
Teach your child what to do when they feel sad when you are not with them by using you “secret tool”, for example:
Teach him to give himself a big hug and to pretend he is with you, hearing your voice in his head, saying “I love you and I always will” …
Pretending that he is in a bubble – big and beautiful (you can discuss the bubble in detail) and then slowly floating higher and higher, totally relaxed and calm - leaving all the sadness behind…
Give your child a special stone, or shell that you picked up together, or even a small photo of you to keep with him…when he misses you or feels scared he can touch it and be reminded of you…
Identifying safe or favourite place he can go to in his imagination (maybe a place you went to on holiday, his room or bed, somewhere in the garden etc), could also provide additional strength when you are not near.
Remember to make a deal that he will tell you when he used your “secret tool” and how it felt. It will provide further opportunity for meaningful dialogue.