How to Talk to Preschoolers About Divorce - Tessmer Law Firm
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How to Talk to Preschoolers About Divorce

How to Talk to Preschoolers About Divorce

How to Talk to Preschoolers About Divorce

How to Talk to Preschoolers About Divorce: Examples of What to Say

If you are divorced or separated and you are a parent, you know how hard it is to talk about divorce with your own children. Half of the time, you get flustered and your words come out all wrong, even when you are talking to your toddler or preschooler. Well, here are some examples of what you can say when talking to your young child about divorce.

Being prepared for difficult questions makes your life easier, and your answers will sound more reassuring to your child. So, try to put yourself in your child’s place and imagine his or her potential questions about divorce. Also, if you and your ex-husband or ex-wife are on speaking terms, you might be able to agree on similar answers that you will both tell your child.

All young children worry about the same things and kids are usually angry about divorce, so it helps to come up with good solid answers for tough situations. These sample answers work well in many situations. (Parents can change the words to make the following phrases their own.)

What to Say When a Child Asks about Divorce:

According to the article, “How to Explain the Divorce to Your Preschooler,” at firstwivesworld.com, M. Gary Neuman advises parents to say something like, “Divorce is a grown-up thing that mommies and daddies do when they make each other very sad when they are together. The changes that happen can be upsetting for children. But, we’re always here and we love you. That will never change.”

In “Explaining Divorce to Children,” at Purdue.edu, childcare providers are told to stick to simple explanations about divorce. Parents can use these two variations.

“Mommy (or Daddy) and I have decided not to live together in the same house.”

“Mommy and Daddy will not be married anymore. We will be divorced. I know you are sorry this has to be the way, but Mommy and Daddy think this is best for everyone.”

What to Say When a Child Is Angry:

“Mommy and Daddy could not find a way to work out our problems or to make things better. We’ve made mistakes and we’re sorry that we’re making you sad or angry.”

“You can always tell me what you feel. It’s okay to tell me when you are angry, worried, or hurt. Sometimes Mommy and Daddy have these same feelings.”

What to Say if a Child Feels Self-Blame:

“Divorce is a grown-up problem and you are not to blame. Mommy and Daddy are not getting a divorce because of anything you did wrong. It is our problem and we will work it out.”

What to Say When a Child Worries about Abandonment:

“We won’t be living together anymore, but we both love you no matter where either of us lives. You will always have someone to take care of you.”

“You will always be part of a family. Mommy and Daddy will always love you.”

As the parent of a small child, you should be prepared to answer these and similar questions about divorce over and over. That’s just the way toddlers and preschoolers are. It’s not that you are explaining things in the wrong manner.

Always be honest with your child but do not try to overwhelm him or her with too much information all at once. With little kids, try to keep your answers simple. And, tell your child how much you love him or her. You can never say that too often. If you are concerned about your child’s behavior, you can always talk to your child’s teacher, pediatrician, or family therapist for more advice.

Resources:
“Because Life Goes On…Helping Children and Youth Live with Separation and Divorce” Public Health Agency of Canada. publichealth.gc.ca.

Karuppaswamy, Nithyakala and Myers-Walls, Judith A. PhD, CFLE. “Explaining Divorce to Children” Purdue.edu

Neuman, M. Gary. “How to Explain the Divorce to Your Child” firstwivesworld.com.