Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, October 21, 2013

New Research Finds that Web-Based Program Helps Children Cope Following Divorce

New research has found that the internet-based program, Children of Divorce–Coping with Divorce (CoD-CoD), promotes coping and reduces mental health problems in children from divorced families

"I thought this program wasn't going to help at all but I was wrong. My parents' divorce is so much easier to deal with now. Thank you."  -- 11-year-old girl
 "CoD-CoD changed my life by making it a little was GREAT!!!"  -- 14-year-old boy
"He has expressed on numerous occasions that the program continues to help him deal with situations that arise concerning me and his dad. I see a real change in his coping skills.   -- Mother of 11-year-old boy

The research included 147 children ages 11–16, randomly assigned to receive either CoD-CoD or another popular internet program for children of divorce. Participants were evaluated prior to participating in the programs and following program participation using validated self-report and parent-report measures. Results showed that youth who participated in CoD-CoD improved more than those using two other popular internet-based websites for children of divorce on measures of child mental health problems and coping efficacy. Children with higher levels of problems and lower coping efficacy showed the most improvement. This is the first experimental evidence of the efficacy of an internet-based program for children of divorce.

Children of Divorce-Coping Divorce (CoD-CoD): 
An Online Program for Children of Divorce 
Ages 11 and Up

What is CoD-CoD?
The Children of Divorce–Coping with Divorce (CoD-CoD) is a five-module internet-based mental health promotion program for children of divorce ages 11 and up. Through the careful adaptation of intervention components previously demonstrated to be effective for children from disrupted families, CoD-CoD is designed to promote participant’s development of four divorce-specific protective factors that have been identified through previous generative research: increased active coping, decreased avoidant coping, improved coping efficacy, and healthier divorce-related appraisals (see figure 1).

In order to develop these protective factors, participants master a variety of coping skills and then practice integrating these skills to solve a diverse set of problems. In order to engage participants, CoD-CoD utilizes a mix of modalities including videos, animations, interactive activities, quizzes, and video games. Users work toward a program goal, which they set for themselves and complete home practice tasks that challenge them to use in their day-to-day lives. This process culminates in the final module when the users harness their program skills to develop a plan that addresses the divorce related events they reported being most concerned about in the first module. A preview of the module format and sample activities is available HERE

What Do Children Like About CoD-CoD?
  • Private- They can get help with their thoughts, feeling, and problems without fear of embarrassment.
  • Helpful- They set their own program goal and almost all children make progress toward that goal.
  • Personalized- The program help the child address the topics and concerns that interest them most.
  • Engaging- Parents sometimes assume their children are playing videogames because they stay so focused while going through CoD-CoD.
  • Funny- It's not uncommon for kids to laugh out loud during the program.
How has CoD-CoD Been Evaluated?
Children of Divorce - Coping with Divorce (CoD-CoD) was evaluated in a randomized experimental trial conducted at the Arizona State University Prevention Research Center. CoD-CoD is the only internet-based program for children of divorce to be evaluated in such a trial. The trial found that:
  • CoD-CoD improves coping efficacy (the child's belief that they can cope with stressors).
  • CoD-CoD reduces mental health problems (as reported by children and parents).
  • Program effects are stronger for children with higher risk and more initial problems.
How Can Families Access CoD-CoD?
CoD-CoD is offered through Family Transitions, which was founded by Irwin Sandler, PhD, Sharlene Wolchik, PhD, and Michele Porter, PhD. Drs. Sandler and Wolchik have spent more than 30 years developing and evaluating programs for children and families experiencing changes like divorce. Family Transitions is committed to providing programs meeting the highest scientific standards for improving children's mental health and offers programs to families going through divorce, separation or bereavement due to the death of a parent.

More information on CoD-CoD for professionals and families is available HERE.

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