When we think of children who need help adjusting during their parent’s divorce, we usually think of preteens and teenagers. They need a lot of stability to get them through that difficult time. We often forget that while young children may not remember the divorce process by the time they’re teenagers, they still need help. Without the right support, divorce can leave emotional wounds that children will carry throughout their lifetime. Fortunately, you can help your infant or toddler adjust to divorce in a healthy way.
Prioritize Your Mental Health When You’re Not With Your Child
You have to take care of yourself in order to care for your child. This isn’t to say you can’t have bad days or struggles, but the more you take care of yourself, the better suited you are to provide for your child. Divorce can be mentally taxing and isolating. Now is the time to get back into doing what you love, exercising, and prioritizing your mental health when you’re not with your child.
Keep Your Child’s Routine as Consistent as Possible
All children, no matter their age, thrive off routine. Even as infants, new environments and rapid changes can lead to anxiety. Stability and consistency are must-haves, which is why joint custody offers your child the most benefits. Establishing a routine helps your child feel safe when their parents are splitting up.
Speak Carefully in Front of Your Kid
Babies and toddlers may not yet understand everything you say, but even infants can understand tone. At a young age, hearing excessive anger, cursing, yelling, or screaming can cause a child to feel unsafe. As they age, they’ll slowly begin to understand what you say and can tell when you’re talking about their other parent. This can lead to complex emotions that are difficult for them to comprehend, and they may begin to resent you or their other guardian.
Prepare Yourself for Tantrums or Behavioral Outbursts
Children don’t know how to handle their own emotions, nor do they always know what they’re feeling. It’s normal for infants and toddlers to have increased tantrums, anger, sadness, and emotional outbursts during or after their parents’ divorce. Keep in mind that they’re not doing this to hurt or guilt trip you; they’re processing their emotions. If your baby is struggling to sleep and having more tantrums or your toddler is lashing out, remain calm and meet them where they are.
The best thing you can do to help your infant or toddler adjust to divorce is to remain flexible and give them a safe environment to express themselves. The more you show them that you’re their safety net, the easier it will be for them to adapt to the change.