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How can I help my toddler cope with the divorce?

Divorce is difficult on all involved, no matter their ages, but for very young children, it can be especially confusing. Whether you are just thinking about the possibility of divorce or the paperwork has already been finalized, understanding the unique challenges that divorcing with toddlers can bring forth is an important part of the process.

While it can be easy to assume that toddlers do not have the same difficulties coping with such a dramatic life change as a divorce as older children, in reality, they may just not be able to express their feelings and confusion. Parents may also be more likely to chalk up behavioral changes as part of the normal outbursts and temper tantrums that are common in 2- and 3-year-olds. However, while your young children may not be able to come to you with their questions and fears, there are some things you can do to ease the transition.

One of the most important parts of this is making the schedule clear. Children need routine, and it can be very scary for toddlers not to know who is picking them up when or where they are going on which day. It's important to keep to the outlined visitation schedule as much as possible so that your toddler can begin to establish a new normal. Visual cues on the calendar and reminding your child who will be picking him or her up every day are two easy ways to incorporate this.

Young children also need to understand that just because their parents are no longer married does not mean they don't still have a family or that a parent is going to abandon them. This can be difficult to communicate if you and your ex are hostile to each other during custody exchanges. If this is the case, it may be helpful to talk to an attorney about any legal options to remedy this.

Source: The Huffington Post, "5 Steps to Cover When Going Through a Divorce With a Toddler," Natasha Daniels, Sep. 30, 2015

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