HOW TO TELL YOUR CHILD THAT YOU AND YOUR PARTNER ARE GOING TO SEPARATE
What your preschooler knows and what you should know
Pre-school children may not have heard the words “divorce” or “separation” before, and most will have no idea what they mean.
2 years old children or less will surely not realize that their life is different, as long as both parents continue to be part of their lives.
However, a child who is somewhat older can feel anxiety and wonder how things are going to change, especially about where he is going to live, where he goes to sleep, and whether he will continue to see both parents.
Your task is to give the information in a simple and clear way. At this age they are very self-absorbed, so explain clearly. Tell him mom and dad won’t live together anymore, but they’ll keep seeing them both.
The most important message for your child is that he will continue to receive love and attention, no matter what.
3-and 4-year-olds don’t like change or loss because they’re afraid of them. Don’t be surprised if your child shows signs of insecurity or regression, has nightmares, wets the bed, or requires a lot of attention from you and other people during this difficult transition. It’s normal because it needs time to recover.
Still, even younger children can be very strong and have a surprising ability to adapt.
How you talk to your child about the separation before, during, and after it happens, it will determine how you can take it in the long run. What you need most from now is that you comfort him and offer him a routine that gives him security.
How To Give The News :
Find the right time
If you and your partner are considering separation or divorce, don’t tell him anything until you’re sure. Although it may seem that it is best, to be honest, say that you are thinking about worrying and confusing your child needlessly.
Keep in mind that a week is an eternity for your young child. It’s better to tell him a couple of days before, so he doesn’t stay thinking what’s going to happen next.
Although it is never a good time to have this important conversation, there are bad times, like just before leaving it in your school or at bedtime. It is because, right after, when you feel insecure and alone, you will need. Choose a time when you have time to hug him, and you can give him security.
Tell the news together
Even if they can’t agree on everything, try to agree on what to say to your son, for his sake. The idea is to be told together. It avoids confusion and gives the impression that it was a mutual decision. It also helps to preserve the child’s trust in both parents.
Tell him in a simple way
He speaks in terms that the child understands and limits the explanation to no more than a few key phrases. If you have seen many discussions, recognize that fact and explain that you are trying to do the best for the family.
Tell him it’s not his fault
Children can be blamed for breaking even if they don’t say so. At this age, they think in simple terms and can remember that they fought because one night one of the two allowed him to stay awake until later, for example. Tell him directly that separation or divorce is a decision between adults and that it has nothing to do with him.
No matter how angry or disgusted you are, do not blame your partner for the breakup, and avoid arguing in front of your child by all means. Save yourself the details of a love affair or financial problems because that will only make you feel bad.
Do not give details
Don’t turn your kitchen into the place where you carry the affairs of your divorce. Try not to comment on legal issues, even on the phone, at a time when your child can hear you. You may think you don’t understand, but you may be listening. Try not to speak in angry or aggressive tone. If there is a custody problem, don’t advise what to say.
Answers To Questions From Pre-school Children About Separation
This question, favorite among children of this age, is sure to come out in the conversation. Don’t go into details and always talk about us. Tell her that you and dad didn’t get along very well and that separating is the best thing for everyone. Avoid telling her that you’re not in love anymore because then you may think you can stop loving him too.
“When does Dad (or mom) come home?”
Your child may not understand that this change is permanent, and he will surely want everything back to normal. Tell her clearly that dad (or MOM) will not live with you again, but assure that she will always have both parents and that they both take care of him.
“I miss Dad!”
Even if you feel relieved because your marriage is over, your child will surely not feel the same (unless your partner is abusive or will fight a lot). Don’t feel hurt when you miss your father and let to express his sadness. Assure that his father is not far away and that he also misses him. Depending on your child’s relationship with your ex’s family, you may need to make sure he or she will see your grandparents again.
“Where Shall I sleep?”
Your child can start asking questions about how his life will be affected, and he’ll want to know if he will still have birthday parties and what will happen to his dog. These worries may seem trivial to you, but for your son, they are very real, so give her always an answer.
“Who will take care of dad?”
Your son may be worried about his father leaving the house. Assure his dad will miss him, but he won’t be sad because he knows he’ll soon see him again.
The Following Steps
Give him a lot of love
As your child adapts, he will need a lot of affection and attention from you. Resist the temptation to constantly talk about the divorce on the phone with your friends, or allow them to spend hours sitting in front of the TV. Give her more hugs and spend more time reading stories at night. Just as you benefit from your family and friends support network, your child needs more hugs and kisses on your part.
Even after you get used to the idea, be prepared to repeat the same explanations over and over for weeks or even months. One of the ways to keep the lines of communication open is to read children’s books that address the issue of divorce.
Keep the Routine
If you keep the usual routine at home for mom and dad, your child will feel safe. Make sure you eat well and get enough sleep, and this will also help you cope with the other changes in your life.
Watch the signs that there’s a problem
Your child may have difficulty adjusting to going from one house to another. He monitors his behavior, in case he misbehaves or retracts, especially after a visit with the other member of the couple. You may simply need time to transition from one home to the other or need to vent. Let him know that you understand that he is sad or angry, and give him a hug to comfort him.
Don’t turn your child into a spy
When your child comes home after visiting the other parent, he resists the temptation to interrogate him about what the other parent did or said. No matter how curious you feel, don’t try to turn your child into your confidant.
Keep a positive attitude
If your divorce means, as is usually the case, that you have financial problems and that your children can no longer have all the toys they want or go on holiday, tell them they will still do many fun things together. To find ideas for fun activities that don’t cost a penny.