Parental divorce and toddlers: How to help them understand & cope
Divorce tends to be hard on children of any age. As such, it’s important for parents to know what they should expect during various stages of development and how to tailor support strategies accordingly.
That being said, it can be especially difficult to help very young children cope with divorce or even help them understand what divorce is. In today’s post, we’ll share some tips on talking to toddlers about divorce.
These tips were first shared by family and child development expert Dr. Gail Gross. She notes that with toddlers, it is especially important for divorcing couples to work together and remain a co-parenting team. This includes:
- Never criticizing the other parent within earshot of the toddler
- Never asking or even implying that the toddler should choose sides
- Always keeping a consistent routine and discipline between both households
- Always keeping a structured schedule that promotes stability and predictability
It’s also very important for divorcing parents to have to have age-appropriate talks with their toddler to offer reassurances and comfort. Parents helping their toddlers should remind them that:
- The divorce is not his or her fault in any way
- Both parents still love him/her even if one parent is no longer living in the same house
- There will be some changes (which should be explained simply but clearly)
- He or she can ask questions and talk through their feelings whenever they need or want to
Toddlers go through some important developmental stages that often leave an impact for a lifetime. Bonding and attachment are especially important during these years. In addition to explaining the divorce in age-appropriate terms, it is also crucial to foster parent-child bonding during this difficult transition.
If you are feeling unsure about how to help your kids through the difficultly of your divorce, please consider seeking the help of a mental health professional and availing yourself of other important resources.
Source: The Huffington Post, “How to Help Your Toddler Through Your Divorce,” Dr. Gail Gross, March 17, 2015