Parents of young children may have a more difficult time explaining why they will not be living together anymore, but that doesn’t mean the conversation should be avoided. Young children tend to be very inquisitive and are likely to notice something is different right away. Instead of assuming it won’t matter because they are so small, divorcing North Carolina parents should spend time explaining divorce in an age-appropriate manner.
Babies and toddlers
Your words aren’t going to reassure your baby or toddler as much as your actions. For children under 18 months old, the most effective way to let them know everything is going to be fine is to cuddle them and keep their routine consistent. Very young children can sense when something is wrong in their world and are likely to respond by crying more, having separation anxiety, waking up during the night or being aggressive. It’s important to show your baby that the people he or she loves aren’t leaving their life; you are only going to be living separately.
By the time they are 3 years old, children often have words for their feelings. If your child is in this age group, sit down with them and explain that their parents won’t be living together anymore. Explain that your love for your child won’t change and tell them how often they will see their other parent. Your child may need some time to process the concept of divorce, so let them know they can ask you questions at any time. Children in this age group may show signs of stress by reverting to toddler behaviors such as bed wetting, speech regression or defiance. You may be able to comfort your preschooler by providing visual and tactile displays to prepare them for their time with their other parent.
Consistency is key when it comes to raising young children. When you separate from your spouse, life may feel anything but consistent. However, the fewer changes you make in your young child’s life, the easier it will be for them to adapt.