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How are toddlers affected by divorce?

When parents are involved in a divorce, it can be easy to think that the process won't be very difficult on young children, such as toddlers. After all, they likely won't remember the divorce when they are older. Many parents, when asked how their children are handling the divorce, will say they are "doing just fine."

One of the problems with toddlers is that they can't tell you exactly how they feel. Maybe the divorce wasn't explained to them in simple words that they can understand. Here are some tips for helping toddlers understand what is happening and how it will all affect them.

-- Use simple language. It's a lot for a child to take in. When you tell your little one "Daddy won't be living with us" but then say "We will still be a family," it can easily confuse a child. Telling a child that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse still love each other can be confusing even to slightly older children.

-- Let your child take things back and forth between the two homes. Many parents may not want to let certain toys or clothes go with their children when they visit the other parent. Children need a routine and comfort. "Things" can provide that in a time that is certainly an upheaval of the norm.

-- Let children know who they will be with and where. Children can quickly become confused if they start the day with Mom and end it with Dad. A calendar can help children know where they will be each day. Choose a color for "Mom days," for "Dad days" and for both.

Helping toddlers adapt and understand the new life situation will help them be happier. They need to understand that you are not "divorcing" them and neither is the other parent. If needed, check with your divorce attorney for referrals for family counselors or therapists.

Source: Huffington Post, "5 Steps to Cover When Going Through a Divorce With a Toddler," Natasha Daniels, Sep. 29, 2015

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