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What are age-appropriate ways to help children deal with divorce?

| Aug 14, 2019 | Family Law |

It is unavoidable that your divorce in Wisconsin will have an effect on your children. However, the way that your children react can vary depending on their ages. Younger children have difficulty understanding the rationale for the divorce even as they feel the increased tension between parents. Older children are more likely to side with one parent against the other or entertain fantasies of facilitating their parents’ reconciliation. 

Fortunately, according to Parents Magazine, there are steps that you can take to ease the transition and help children adjust. Nevertheless, it is important that your efforts in this regard be age-appropriate. What is effective for a pre-teen may not work for a two-year-old, and vice versa. 

Elementary-aged children

Children at this age are likely to assign blame for the divorce. They may take on the responsibility themselves or point fingers at one of the parents. For this reason, it is important for you and your ex-spouse to avoid blaming each other for the divorce and also explain to the children that it is not their fault either. Children at this age have a greater degree of emotional maturity, so be sure to encourage them to express their feelings about the divorce. 

Toddlers and preschoolers

Children at this age tend to believe that the world exists for their comfort and pleasure, so they can have difficulty adjusting to a change that they perceive as negative yet remains beyond their control. At this age, children may not have the emotional vocabulary to express their feelings about the divorce, so these emotions can become internalized and manifest in other ways, such as nightmares or behavioral regression.

You can help to ease the transition by sticking to a reasonable visitation schedule and assuring children that they will continue to spend quality time with each parent. To the extent possible, you should try to maintain a consistent routine and a positive attitude. 

Infants

Despite the fact that babies do not understand the reasons behind the divorce, they are sensitive to changes in their routine and to tension in the household. They may respond by becoming clingy and irritable. While you cannot explain divorce to an infant, you can provide plenty of physical comfort and items of security, such as favorite blankets or toys, to maintain an atmosphere of familiarity. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only