Here is a simple guide for coParents; their family and friends; and professionals, on how to act in front of children of divorce. Children are constantly learning from us and this includes the way we act towards and around them.

Parents: Recent research shows that we have mirror neurons in our brains that prepare us to do the exact same actions that are performed by those around us. This means that we have to be much more careful about exposing children to our extreme behavior, because they may do the exact same actions someday. It also helps to tell children that extreme behaviors are not socially tolerated, so that if they see a bad behavior they will also learn that they should not do it. Try to limit your child from seeing bad behavior as much as you can, as it’s the sights and sounds that get mirrored. This could include the people around you, as well as TV and the internet.

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Family and Friends: Be a positive role model. Be careful to avoid behaving in a manner that you would not want your divorcing family member or friend, or their children, to behave. Explain mirror neurons to those who might benefit from this information. Encourage positive activities, especially with people who would be good role models for the children, as well as for your friend or family member.

Professionals: Be professional and civil with everyone involved in the case. Act as if everything you do will be mirrored by your clients, and then by their children. Teach your clients strategies for providing positive behavior in response to negative behavior by the high-conflict parent. Educate the court about how children learn from everything they see and hear, but don’t use this as a reason to try to eliminate the other parent. Encourage the use of moderate coping methods for dealing with HCPs in the divorce process.


About Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq

Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, mediator and the President of High Conflict Institute. He developed the "High Conflict Personality" theory (HCP Theory) and has become an international expert on managing disputes involving high conflict personalities and personality disorders. He provides training on this subject to lawyers, judges, mediators, managers, human resource professionals, businesspersons, healthcare administrators, college administrators, homeowners’ association managers, ombudspersons, law enforcement, therapists and others. He has been a speaker and trainer in over 25 states, several provinces in Canada, Australia, France and Sweden.

As an attorney, Bill is a Certified Family Law Specialist in California and the Senior Family Mediator at the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego. Prior to becoming an attorney in 1992, he was a Licensed Clinical Social worker with twelve years’ experience providing therapy to children, adults, couples and families in psychiatric hospitals and outpatient clinics. He has taught Negotiation and Mediation at the University of San Diego School of Law for six years and he is on the part-time faculty of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law and the National Judicial College.

He is the author of numerous articles and several books.

Areas of Expertise: Mediation, Family Law, Workplace, Judicial Officers, Court Systems, Governmental Entities, Mental Health Professionals, New Ways for Families.

To view his book, “BIFF: Quick Responses to High-Conflict People,” visit this link:

To view his book, “Don’t Alienate the Kids!” Visit this site: