Guide to Divorce When You Have a Toddler
Divorce is a painful experience that every married person hopes to never have to go through. The process of divorce, as well as its aftermath, has a lot of consequences on both the spouses and the children.
While divorce is not an experience anyone prays for, in some situations, it can become unavoidable. This is why several channels are available to help people through the divorce and handle the aftermath that follows.
However, divorce takes a different twist when a toddler is involved. While you have your own emotions to deal with, you also have to find ways to explain to your kids why you and your husband or wife will no longer be living together.
Switching homes, seeing only one parent at a time, and other factors that come with a divorce can affect a child as they grow up. To help you manage your divorce if you have a toddler, we have put together this guide with useful information and helpful advice.
Getting a Divorce with a Toddler
Getting a divorce with grown children or no children at all is different from getting a divorce while you still have a toddler. To assist you, we will be reviewing some of the main factors to consider before starting your divorce with a toddler.
The Psychological Effect of the Divorce on the Toddler
A toddler is any child between the ages of 1 and 3. Children in this age bracket do not have developed emotions of their own and are forced to live off the emotions of their parents.
So, toddlers are excited when their parents are excited and are frustrated when their parents are frustrated. Toddlers get anxious when they see their parents fighting constantly and this affects their emotions.
Between the ages of 1 and 3, children are still developing, and whatever they learn during stage will become ingrained into their minds for a very long time.
So before getting a divorce when you have a toddler, you have to consider the effect of the divorce on the toddler. No matter how much you try to explain the situation to a toddler, they will still find a divorce difficult to understand. This could result in the toddler losing sleep, having a feeling of loss and abandonment, or even having more frequent accidents.
They might not immediately exhibit these psychological effects, but sooner or later, as they grow up, it will manifest and they will start painting psychological images of what happened and what did not happen during the divorce.
Parents are everything to toddlers because these are the people know. Toddlers are around their parents for the better part of their lives during this stage of their development.
What they learn from their parents – consciously or subconsciously – goes on to form their life patterns as they grow up. Psychology studies show that children whose parents got a divorce when they were toddlers tend to have trust issues.
These children grow up to have faulty love relationships because they feel like their experience will turn out like that of their parents. They tend to see their partners in life in the same light as their parents saw each other during the divorce.
The psychological impact of divorce also shows as they begin to grow up and they start feeling lost among their peers.
They do not want to get into conversations that they cannot relate to or don’t feel safe about. They begin to worry about who will take care of them, where they will live, and what kind of routine they should expect.
Divorce can have a lot of psychological effects on kids, particularly toddlers, which is why you have to think these effects through before deciding to get a divorce. Are the psychological effects something you want to subject your toddler to?
The Health Effect of the Divorce on the Toddler
The first year after a divorce is the most difficult for divorcing spouses and their kids. During this time, it is common to get lost in the memories of the past and lose out on making new memories in the present. This can result in depression for all parties involving, and possibly even damaging health consequences for the toddler.
According to research conducted by CompleteCase, stress from a divorce can affect the development of a toddler’s immune system. When this happens, the toddler becomes vulnerable to several health risks due to their weakened immune system.
Another health effect of a divorce on toddlers is bouts of anxiety and depression as they grow up. Thoughts of the divorce can be haunting to a child, especially when they witnessed it as a toddler.
Flashbacks of memories during this time can send a child into a depressive state, which if bad enough could even bring about suicidal thoughts. Some studies have even shown that divorce, alongside other genetic factors, could increase the risk of a stroke later in the child’s life.
What Will Your Relationship with The Toddler Be Like After the Divorce?
This is a major question to ask yourself before getting a divorce when you have a toddler.
Divorce has proven to affect the relationship children have with their parents. Initially, toddlers may find it difficult to understand the cause of the divorce, but this won’t last forever.
As the toddler grows up, the reasons will start to make sense. This, in turn, could cause a strain in the parent-child relationship.
A toddler is at a phase of his/her life where trust is being developed in the parents.
When this trust is broken through a divorce, it could affect the relationship the child has with either or both parents as they become fully grown. This has resulted in many children keeping a distance from their divorced parents, especially the father.
Helping a Toddler During and Through a Divorce
Now, if all of the factors provided above have been considered and divorce seems to be inevitable, the next step is to find a way to help your toddler through the divorce.
How you handle the divorce and raise the toddler afterwards could shape his/her mindset growing up. Here are a few helpful tips that you can use to help your toddler during a divorce.
- Constantly Reassure Your Toddler
Reassurance, no matter how little, is important in helping your toddler during a divorce. During the divorce and after, you must reassure your toddler that you love and care about them. Tell them that you will always be there for them, no matter what.
They need to know that you will always meet their needs and provide for them. Let them know that even though they won’t be living with their daddy now, they will always have their mommy.
Spend as much time as possible with them, playing, eating, and sharing amazing stories.
- Talk with Your Toddler Frequently
Remember that at this stage in their lives, a toddler’s parents are everything to them. Talking to their parents helps a toddler to avoid feelings of loneliness and separation.
So, during a divorce, you must constantly talk with your toddler and help them feel joy. Share experiences with them and constantly re-assure them of your love and how you will always be there for them.
- Develop a Routine That Builds Trust between Yourself and Your Toddler
Like all humans, toddlers need a routine in their lives. When this routine is altered, they become affected and start to notice changes.
Some changes in their routine are unavoidable after a divorce, but these changes should not be swift.
Gradually help them to develop new routines similar to what they were used to before. This will help them to deal with their current realities.
Make sure these routines help to build trust between you and them. These toddlers need your attention at this stage more than ever before, and it is your responsibility to do all you can to give it to them.
Divorce affects toddlers as much as it affects you. You have to ensure that you do all that is within your capacity to develop a positive mindset for your toddler when going through a divorce.
To minimize the effect of the divorce on your toddler, you and your spouse have to handle the situation properly, develop new and better routines for the toddler, and reassure them of love and security.
Being there for your little one when they need you the most is the best way to help them develop a positive mindset and go on to live a productive and happy life.