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What do toddlers need from their divorcing parents?
What do toddlers need from their divorcing parents?

What do toddlers need from their divorcing parents?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Child Custody And Parenting Plans |

When parents of toddlers divorce, they too often don’t fully realize the effects that the split can inspire for their children. Children in the toddler years (generally considered to be in the 1-to-3-year range) typically don’t have the language skills to explain how they feel or to fully understand what is happening.

However, they certainly do have feelings about major changes in family dynamics. Those can manifest in behavioral issues, regression into infant behaviors they had outgrown and even health problems. Parental divorce at that age can affect a person into their adult years if it’s not handled sensitively.

How can you help your toddler through your divorce and the changes in their life that this transition will inspire?

Tell your toddler about the divorce

This needs to be done in simple words – probably not even using the word “divorce.” They’ll need to know that their parents will be living separately and that they’ll be spending time with each of you (if that will be the case).

Children that age will be most concerned about how this will affect them. Where will they live? Where will their toys and other belongings be? Will they still see their grandparents, friends, babysitters and others in their life? Will they continue to go to their daycare and their favorite park? For children that age, routine brings comfort, so it’s best to keep their routine as consistent as possible across your homes.

Help your toddler feel at home in both homes

If you’ve already worked out how legal and physical custody (or parental responsibility and time-sharing, as they’re called in Florida) will work for your family, it’s important for them to know when and how they’ll move between homes. It can help your child to have their own colorful paper calendar (maybe one they help decorate) in each home to feel an added sense of security.

Whichever parent has moved out of the family home should have a room set up for your child decorated with their favorite colors, Disney or superhero characters or whatever else they love. It’s important to emphasize that both homes are theirs – not just Mom’s or Dad’s.

The less conflict there is in a divorce that will affect a toddler, the better they’re likely to adjust to the changes. If you think that mediation or other alternative divorce resolution would work for you, these approaches can potentially save time and money and help you get used to working out agreements as co-parents with the primary focus on your child’s well-being.


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