Being a child of divorce is never easy. However, toddlers may be less likely to get the attention they need from their parents than their older or younger siblings. Older kids are able to express their feelings and may more obviously act out. Therefore, parents are more likely to discuss things with them or get them therapy if needed.
Meanwhile, parents may believe that their toddlers are doing fine when they simply don’t have the words to express what they’re feeling. Further, they know that something is going on, but they don’t fully understand it. One child therapist offers some advice for talking with your toddler about your divorce.
— Make sure that they understand that their parents are not leaving them. Explain that sometimes moms and dads break up just like kids might decide not to be friends with someone anymore. They need to know that the divorce is not about them.
— Be certain that they understand that this is a permanent situation. Don’t give them false hope that their parents will be getting back together after you know that the divorce is happening.
— Give them a clear understanding of what their new living situation will be. They want to know how the divorce will impact them. Explain where they will be living most of the time, when they’ll be staying with your ex and when your ex will be visiting them. Let them know if they will have toys, clothes, books and a bedroom at both houses. Assure them of what will be the same — that they can still see their friends, attend the same day care and spend time with their grandparents. If you’re moving, prepare them for that.
— Discuss the schedule every day with them. Toddlers are helped by visuals. Make a calendar of what days they’ll be with you and which ones they’ll be with their other parent. Put it on the refrigerator or in their room where they can see it whenever they’re confused or insecure.
It’s best if you and your ex can work together to provide reassurance, consistency and security to your little ones before, during and after your divorce, despite your own feelings of anger and grief. If you need support or therapy to help with this, your attorney can likely provide some helpful resources.
Source: Huffington Post, “5 Steps to Cover When Going Through a Divorce With a Toddler,” Nathasia Daniels, Sep. 30, 2015