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Tips for Young Children and Divorce
How-To Change Your Child's Expression
Stability, happiness, young children and divorce, which of these words doesn't fit? If you have any experience with divorce then you know that this is the word that doesn't fit in the sequence. However, for 50 percent of children in the United States, divorce is an event that is a part of their lives. If you are a parent of a young child and you are going through a divorce or if you have completed a divorce, then you need to learn how to work with your former spouse to create a loving home environment and family dynamic that your young child will be able to thrive in.
Babies and Divorce
A parent's divorce is difficult for children of all ages to deal with, however for babies divorce is something that is experienced in a rather abstract manner. This is because babies don't understand concepts like divorce and marriage. Their understanding of the world is based on the predictability of certain events and on their interactions with their parents. If you want to ensure that your baby is not negatively affected by your divorce, then you will need to do what you can to maintain a routine, provide them with lots of attention and affection and to minimize the amount of emotional stress that they are exposed to.
Tips: Having a comfort item that the baby can take with them to each parent's house is a good option. This will help the baby feel secure during the transitions.
Toddlers and Divorce
As children get older they become more aware of changes in their environment, and they are better able to express their emotions and they are better able to read the emotions of others. If you are divorced or are getting divorced and have a toddler then you need to spend more time on explaining to them what is going on and reassuring them that everything will be fine and both you and their other parent still loves them. These words will help alleviate their anxiety and help strengthen your bond with them. Also, like with babies, routines will be important to maintain at both your house and their other parent's house, as will having a common set of rules for the toddler to follow.
Tip: As kids get older they will be able to understand more about what is going on. To help make their transition to a divorced family easier you just need to reassure them constantly that they are loved and that they will always be taken care of.
Pre-Schoolers and Divorce
When your kids get to be pre-school age, or between three and four, then they have the cognitive ability to understand that getting a divorce will mean that their parents no longer will be living together. Their emotional development will also be at a higher level than a toddler, so they may "feel" the divorce more at this stage of development. To help them through your divorce, you will want to maintain routines, provide a common set of rules for them to follow at both your house and their other parent's house and you will want to make sure that they have the extra emotional support that they need. Letting their pre-school teacher know what is going on will also be helpful as they will be able to watch out for signs of distress and problems that may have developed as a result of the divorce.
Links and Resources
- Coping with Divorce: Helping Your Child Cope with Separation or Divorce
Talking with children about separation and divorce. Helping your child cope with the negative short and long term effects of separation and divorce.
- Helping Your Child Through a Divorce
By minimizing the stress a divorce creates, being patient as everyone adjusts to the new situation, and responding openly and honestly to your kids' concerns, you can help them through this difficult time.