Parents who divorce when their child is a toddler often think that they really aren’t going to be impacted very much by the change in their family. However, just because they can’t express their thoughts and worries as effectively as older kids can, that doesn’t mean they don’t notice all the changes.
A toddler’s world is still fairly limited, so they will notice that their parents aren’t together with them as much, that they’re spending time alone with one parent in a new home and that maybe a grandparent or someone else they know is taking care of them more. All of these things are big changes for them.
Explaining divorce to a toddler
Don’t assume that you don’t need to have “the talk” with your toddler about what’s going on. You just need to explain things with words and ideas they understand. They just need to know that the two of you won’t be living together any longer, but you will still both be taking care of them (assuming that’s the case) and that you both love them and will continue to be their parents. It’s also wise to reassure them that this has nothing to do with them or anything they did.
There are plenty of books for toddlers about divorce that can help you and that you can read to your child. It’s important to let them ask questions whenever they want and that you’re giving them consistent answers.
A consistent routine is crucial
Speaking of consistency, routine is very important for toddlers. Regardless of how you’re sharing custody, it’s crucial to keep naptime, playtime, meals and bedtimes the same across both of your homes. Inconsistent routines can cause big behavior issues. While you should both have a room made up for your child, they may want to carry some favorite toys, dolls or games back and forth.
The custody agreement and parenting plan you have for your toddler will likely need to be modified multiple times as your child gets older. For now, it’s important to focus on developing one that helps you co-parent successfully through this crucial stage of your child’s life.