THE BLOG

How to Help Your Toddler Through Your Divorce

03/17/2015 04:39 pm ET | Updated May 17, 2015
Cultura/Annie Engel via Getty Images

Toddlers are still in need of bonding and attachment. Thus, divorce may create regressive, needy behavior in toddlers, as a reaction to feelings of abandonment. When a parent leaves the home for good, it can be very disturbing, and visitation can cause both clinging and aggressive behavior. Parents can minimize the negative impact by working together, as a team.

Here are some tips for parents of toddlers:

  1. Engage in age-appropriate conversations with your toddler. You must support your toddler by explaining that there will be a divorce and that one parent will not be living at home. This conversation should happen before the divorce occurs.

  • Assure your toddler that he is not to blame for the separation.
  • Reassure your toddler that though you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse no longer wish to live together, you both love him.
  • Don't burden your child with your own emotional problems.
  • Never criticize the other parent or fight in front of your toddler.
  • Don't put your toddler in a loyalty bind. That double-bind will only backfire on your toddler, causing tension, stress, and emotional problems.
  • Stabilize your toddler as quickly as possible by sticking to routine and being consistent with your discipline.
  • Keep a structured schedule for your home routine and for parental visits. This will give your toddler a routine that he can count on -- that alone can help re-establish security.
  • Talk with your toddler about his concerns and allow him to talk to others. Secrets are suppressed feelings that can cause emotional problems.
  • Above all, shower your toddler with love. You can never love your child too much, and a divorce is a time when he will need your love and security the most.