Going through a divorce is a difficult emotional experience for adults, and even more so when there are young children involved. Children aged five and under are heavily dependent on parents, cannot understand complex events or feelings, and disruptions to their normal routines can seriously rock their little worlds.
When a family is going through a divorce, a young child may feel fear, anger, and complex emotions that they are unable to deal with. It’s normal for young children to become more clingy, irritable, and anxious. Toddlers may lose ground in development. For example, a child that’s been potty trained may begin wetting the bed again.
Helping Your Children Cope with Separation and Divorce
At Doyle Law Group, our goal is for your divorce to go as smoothly and peacefully as possible. While it’s impossible to shield young children from the emotional difficulties of divorce, you can help them cope.
Here are five tips for helping young children cope with divorce:
Children under the age of five may not be able to understand the complexity of divorce, but they will notice the absence of a parent and a change in routine. It’s important to keep explanations of these changes simple and matter of fact. Tell them which parent will be moving out, where they will live, and how often they will see the other parent.
If your child has questions, keep the answers short. Be prepared to have many short conversations. You may have to answer the same ones several times, as divorce can be confusing to toddlers.
Keep the Peace
Keeping the peace isn’t just about not fighting in front of them. Young children can sense stress. While you and your spouse are no doubt going through a tough time in your lives, it’s important not to take it out on your children by becoming irritated with them.
Maintain a peaceful household, ensure that your child feels loved, and when you take your child to visit their other parent, make it a happy moment.
Legitimize Your Child’s Feelings
A child’s anger, sadness, and frustration with divorce is understandable and should not be dismissed due to their young age. If a child is acting out or regressing in their development, ask them about their feelings in a simple fashion.
Simply asking “are you feeling sad?” can help a child deal with their feelings. Encourage them to tell you why they are feeling sad and let them know that it is okay to feel that way.
Maintain a Routine
One of the most difficult parts of a divorce for a young child is the disruption in their regular routine. Work out the visitation schedule with your spouse and then explain it to your child. Consistency is key, so try to minimize disruptions, especially during the first few weeks. It may take your child a while to adjust.
Patience and understanding are the keys to helping your young child cope with this major life change.
While sticking to a routine is important, you should also be flexible with your child during a divorce. If it’s dad’s weekend and the child is crying for mom, consider letting them spend an hour or two with mom. If a child is having a rough day and is acting out at daycare, consider taking a day off from work and doing something fun with your child to help them relieve some of the stress.
Contact a Family Law Firm in Raleigh
Going through a divorce is a highly emotional experience for your family. The family law professionals at Doyle Law Group have many years of experience guiding families through divorce proceedings.
If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, our legal team is ready to help you. We can be reached by calling 919-301-8843 or by completing the form below.
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