A child who is around 3 to 4 years old certainly knows when there's something wrong with his family. By the time divorce is inevitable, the child may be used to Mom and Dad living separately or may still be coming to grips with having two different households. Either way, there are a few steps you can take to make sure the transition is as easy as possible.
Make Sure to Have a Conversation
Preschool age children often don't understand exactly what's going on with their parents. They don't know that 50 percent of all married couples in the U.S. get a divorce; they just know their world is changing. They may not understand exactly what the issue is, only that their environment and living situation have changed dramatically. It's important that both parents, either together (if relations allow) or separately, have a conversation with the child about what he or she should expect.
Children this age will often have very specific questions about how their lives will change. These may include asking about seeing grandparents, spending time with siblings or pets and even regular routines, like getting ready for bed. Parents should answer the questions honestly and not pretend that everything will stay the same.
Don't avoid talking to your child about the divorce. Three or four years is not too young to be impacted by such a family change.
Stay Consistent When Possible
Three- to four-year-olds may think that a divorce is their fault. It's up to parents, perhaps with the help of grandparents, other family members or even a therapist, to explain and show that their actions didn't have anything to do with the split.
The sooner parents can set up a routine for custody and other issues, and stick to it, the more comfortable the child will be. Parents should minimize custody battles as much as possible; talk to your divorce attorney about how to fairly split the time kids spend with each parent. It's also important to reassure the child that he or she will still see the non-custodial parent -- and any siblings or family members of that parent -- on a regular basis.
Encourage School and Social Activities
Kids who are in preschool are just starting to form relationships with peers and have friends. Divorcing parents who do all they can to keep that school and activity schedule consistent will help their kids avoid some of the social problems that come along with divorced kids, like acting out or showing signs of depression.
Have Patience When Kids Regress
Many preschool children who have to adjust to divorce begin to have problems with tasks they'd previously mastered or habits they'd outgrown -- including sleeping, toilet training and thumb sucking. Parents need to be patient with the problems and reinforce correct behavior without nagging.
For more information about how to help your young kids through divorce, talk to your divorce attorney like one from Granowitz, White & Weber Attorneys at Law for ideas and resources. You also want your divorce attorney to put any and all parenting agreements in writing so you don't develop issues in the future; you may be divorcing, but you'll be co-parenting for years to come.Share
23 February 2015
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