Talking With Young Children About Divorce

Reviewed Feb 13, 2018

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Summary

Work out as many of the practical changes as possible before you talk to your child . 

Are you dreading telling your child about an impending separation or divorce? How you break the news and your ongoing attention to your child's emotional needs can ease his pain and help him adjust.

Infants and toddlers

Even babies can sense tension and conflict between parents. By age two, most toddlers can understand a simple explanation of what is going to change as a result of divorce, but you will have to repeat the words often before they sink in. Toddlers often will regress in areas such as weaning, toilet training, and general behavior. Be patient and affectionate, and try to reassure your child by maintaining family routines and activities.

Less is more

Too much information can overwhelm your child. Choose your words carefully and practice them before your conversation so that you can be sure your child hears what you have to say before anxiety sets in and she loses focus.

Here are more tips:

  • If possible, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse should tell your child together, showing that you are committed as parents even though your marriage is ending.
  • Tell your child on a weekend, and give him a few weeks' notice to digest the news, ask questions, and prepare for any relocation.
  • Stress that the divorce is not her fault. Many children blame themselves and need to be told repeatedly that they are not the cause of the divorce.

Helping with the adjustment

Other ways that you can help your child adjust include:

  • Work out as many of the practical changes as possible before you talk to your child, and reassure him that you will do all you can to maintain his routines and surroundings.
  • Talk to your child's teachers and let them know what is going on at home. Ask that they keep you informed about how she is faring at school during this period.
  • Be as respectful as possible of your ex-spouse. Ongoing conflict puts a tremendous strain on children.
  • Do everything you can to provide a sense of security and well-being for your child. Bedtime stories, favorite meals, and extra hugs and attention are especially comforting and reassuring. Be available to talk and listen to your child, and if he seems distant or withdrawn, check in by asking questions so he knows you care.

Nurture the nurturer

Supporting your child through the transition of a divorce is incredibly demanding and draining. Ask your family and friends for help, and consider joining a support group for newly single parents. Helping your child adjust will help transform your guilt and sorrow into optimism and confidence as you strive toward a brighter future. 

Summary

Work out as many of the practical changes as possible before you talk to your child . 

Are you dreading telling your child about an impending separation or divorce? How you break the news and your ongoing attention to your child's emotional needs can ease his pain and help him adjust.

Infants and toddlers

Even babies can sense tension and conflict between parents. By age two, most toddlers can understand a simple explanation of what is going to change as a result of divorce, but you will have to repeat the words often before they sink in. Toddlers often will regress in areas such as weaning, toilet training, and general behavior. Be patient and affectionate, and try to reassure your child by maintaining family routines and activities.

Less is more

Too much information can overwhelm your child. Choose your words carefully and practice them before your conversation so that you can be sure your child hears what you have to say before anxiety sets in and she loses focus.

Here are more tips:

  • If possible, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse should tell your child together, showing that you are committed as parents even though your marriage is ending.
  • Tell your child on a weekend, and give him a few weeks' notice to digest the news, ask questions, and prepare for any relocation.
  • Stress that the divorce is not her fault. Many children blame themselves and need to be told repeatedly that they are not the cause of the divorce.

Helping with the adjustment

Other ways that you can help your child adjust include:

  • Work out as many of the practical changes as possible before you talk to your child, and reassure him that you will do all you can to maintain his routines and surroundings.
  • Talk to your child's teachers and let them know what is going on at home. Ask that they keep you informed about how she is faring at school during this period.
  • Be as respectful as possible of your ex-spouse. Ongoing conflict puts a tremendous strain on children.
  • Do everything you can to provide a sense of security and well-being for your child. Bedtime stories, favorite meals, and extra hugs and attention are especially comforting and reassuring. Be available to talk and listen to your child, and if he seems distant or withdrawn, check in by asking questions so he knows you care.

Nurture the nurturer

Supporting your child through the transition of a divorce is incredibly demanding and draining. Ask your family and friends for help, and consider joining a support group for newly single parents. Helping your child adjust will help transform your guilt and sorrow into optimism and confidence as you strive toward a brighter future. 

Summary

Work out as many of the practical changes as possible before you talk to your child . 

Are you dreading telling your child about an impending separation or divorce? How you break the news and your ongoing attention to your child's emotional needs can ease his pain and help him adjust.

Infants and toddlers

Even babies can sense tension and conflict between parents. By age two, most toddlers can understand a simple explanation of what is going to change as a result of divorce, but you will have to repeat the words often before they sink in. Toddlers often will regress in areas such as weaning, toilet training, and general behavior. Be patient and affectionate, and try to reassure your child by maintaining family routines and activities.

Less is more

Too much information can overwhelm your child. Choose your words carefully and practice them before your conversation so that you can be sure your child hears what you have to say before anxiety sets in and she loses focus.

Here are more tips:

  • If possible, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse should tell your child together, showing that you are committed as parents even though your marriage is ending.
  • Tell your child on a weekend, and give him a few weeks' notice to digest the news, ask questions, and prepare for any relocation.
  • Stress that the divorce is not her fault. Many children blame themselves and need to be told repeatedly that they are not the cause of the divorce.

Helping with the adjustment

Other ways that you can help your child adjust include:

  • Work out as many of the practical changes as possible before you talk to your child, and reassure him that you will do all you can to maintain his routines and surroundings.
  • Talk to your child's teachers and let them know what is going on at home. Ask that they keep you informed about how she is faring at school during this period.
  • Be as respectful as possible of your ex-spouse. Ongoing conflict puts a tremendous strain on children.
  • Do everything you can to provide a sense of security and well-being for your child. Bedtime stories, favorite meals, and extra hugs and attention are especially comforting and reassuring. Be available to talk and listen to your child, and if he seems distant or withdrawn, check in by asking questions so he knows you care.

Nurture the nurturer

Supporting your child through the transition of a divorce is incredibly demanding and draining. Ask your family and friends for help, and consider joining a support group for newly single parents. Helping your child adjust will help transform your guilt and sorrow into optimism and confidence as you strive toward a brighter future. 

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2018 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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