Divorce is unpleasant, emotional and hurtful.
The problem is, we sometimes forget that we aren’t the only ones experiencing this pain. Often our children suffer an unnecessary degree of hurt as a result of our incompatibility with our chosen partner. At times, we seem to be so involved in our own emotions that we forget how our children feel. If we, the adults, cannot cope with divorce, how can we expect our children to?
It is important to adopt some coping skills, stay calm, and take the child into consideration in every situation.
It helps to use the “stop- think-act technique” to acquire the best outcome of each situation and not just allow our emotions to blindly guide us.
Children might look resilient and it might seem that they don’t understand what is going on. However, they can sense that there is something wrong and react to our emotions and behaviours.
Some tips on how to help you and your toddlers through the process:
Toddlers need consistency. This is not the time to drag them from house to house. If at all possible, they should stay in familiar surroundings and the non-custodial parent can visit there.
At this age, although they have a better understanding than infants, there is much they do not understand. They can comprehend that one parent has left the home, but not understand why.
Their concept of time is also arbitrary. Your child may ask you when they are going to see their daddy, or why mommy isn’t here anymore.
No matter how many times you have to give them the answers, don’t get frustrated, as their world is very confusing at this time.
If you have to argue or “debate passionately”, make sure to do it in a way that doesn’t cause your child undue fear or concern.
Remember, you are the adults in this situation and you have a responsibility to your child, to reduce as much harm as this separation is causing, as possible.
Toddlers often test the boundaries by saying “No” to adults or test limits by hitting or throwing. This behaviour and acting out can increase during the divorce process as a result of confused boundaries and definitions in the family. Toddlers need clear, consistent rules, enforced in a loving way.
Toddlers don’t have a very developed sense of empathy and tend to be concerned primarily with how their needs will be met. In the event of divorce, their sense of security becomes more self-oriented and their concern is about whether or not they will be secure, if they will be loved and nourished.
As toddlers become more aware of their own feelings, they learn to express them through words and play. As tensions increase in the household, they may become more reactive. Strong feelings are hard for them to manage and moderate.
Let them know that its okay to feel, but remember to help them manage the intensity by proper displays of your own emotional state, as well as appropriate levels of affection and understanding towards your child.
It is important to be clear how you are going to tell your child about the divorce. Here are some tips
* Both parents should be present to tell the children, with the main message being that the child is still your priority.
* The love for the child will never change.
* You will still have plenty of time for the child – if not more.
* Telling your child about the break-up should be a very short conversation.
* Practice what you are going to say, before saying the wrong things that can hurt one for ever.
* Never disparage the other parent, because it makes your child feel guilty about loving them.
For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE