How to Explain Divorce to a Child

This is a collaborative post.

Going through a divorce is a traumatic adult experience but at least you fully understand what is going on and the implications of your decision. The same cannot be said of a child, who is bound to feel anxious about the upheaval that is going to impact their lives in a significant way.

How to Explain Divorce to a Child

Once you have made that difficult decision to separate you may well end up searching divorce lawyers Melbourne, for instance, in order to get the professional guidance you need in these difficult circumstances.

It would also be a good idea to find the right way to explain to your child what divorce means so that they can hopefully become less anxious about the process once they have a better understanding of what is going on.

Here is an overview of how to approach the subject of divorce and explain in a way that your child will understand.

Key considerations

There are a couple of very important points you need to bear in mind when working out how to tell a child that you are getting a divorce.

Your primary goal should be to find a way to explain the divorce process by giving them the essential information they need without overwhelming them with too much detail or terms that might raise their anxiety levels.

You should also take into consideration the age of the child. Explaining divorce to a toddler requires a very different approach compared to talking to a child who is 10, for example.

Think about what stage of development they are at so that you can adjust the explanation and level of information so that it is appropriate to their age and level of understanding.

If your child is under five

You can’t expect a child so young to grasp complex events like divorce and they live in the present, so it would not make sense to try and explain what was happening in the future.

One of the biggest emotional dangers to a child of this sort of age is the fact that they could easily develop false assumptions about the divorce. In particular, they might feel that the parent who is leaving the family home has left them rather than separating from the other parent.

Stick to short explanations and spell out the proposed arrangements in simple terms.

Explaining to children between six and eleven

Children in this age range tend to have developed relationships outside of the home and have a greater understanding of the complexity of two people living together and the strains that come with that dynamic.

A child of this age range can have the tendency to assign blame for the split, so be prepared for this emotional response.

Older children

When you have a child who is twelve or older you can usually invite them to join the discussion about divorce and what it means to the family.

Talking about the future arrangements in a collaborative way can help them to deal with the situation with a greater element of understanding and emotional control.

One of your key priorities, whatever the age of the child, is to provide stability in the care and regular routines so that they can adjust to the prospect of divorce and know they still have the love of their parents.

Talking about divorce with kids is never going to be easy, but taking the right approach can help ease the pain they might experience at such an upheaval in their young life.

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