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How To Explain Divorce To Young Children

Kids under the age of five are busy learning family dynamics and relationships. But what happens when the family dynamics that children have been learning are disrupted by divorce and a change of environment?

Rest assured that as San Bernardino divorce lawyers, we’ve seen many couples who have young children going through divorces. The good news is that with the right explanations, age-appropriate answers and a lot of love, the kids come out of it just fine.

The Under-Five Set: When Environments Change

Even if your children stay in the same home during and after your divorce, they’ll still know that the dynamics of the family have changed. Most psychologists suggest that you attempt to explain the changes to your little ones using age-appropriate concepts. If you’re stumped, ask your San Bernardino divorce lawyer if he or she knows a local counselor who specializes in helping young children cope with divorce.

How to Explain Divorce to Your Toddler

Toddlers are only beginning to learn about the past, present and future—generally, they’re living in the moment—so don’t tell them anything about the divorce until your home circumstances start changing.

Saying what you need to say can be as simple as “We both love you very much. We are moving to a new house now, and you will see both of us as much as possible.” Make sure you’re calm and, if possible, that you tell your little one together with your ex.

What will really solidify what you’ve said is getting into a routine. It’s incredibly important that you both stick to the child custody agreement you and your ex have agreed upon; kids desperately need routines, and disruptions can cause them emotional distress.

How to Explain Divorce to Children Up to Age Five

Four- and five-year-olds can understand much more about divorce than toddlers can, but they still only need limited explanations. It’s okay to tell them the truth about getting a divorce and living in separate homes; just make sure you leave out the details that led to your current situation. Make sure you shower them with reassurances that this new change won’t affect the way you feel about them; you’ll both still love them as much as you do now.

Bonus Tips for Telling Young Kids About Divorce

No parent has ever said that telling his or her children about an impending divorce was easy; in fact, telling them may be harder on parents than it is on kids. You can make it easier on your kids by:

  • Telling them you love them
  • Telling them together
  • Explain that although your feelings about each other have changed, your feelings for them will always remain the same
  • Highlight the things that will stay the same