How Divorce Impacts Kids of all Ages 2-4 years-old

As Teri mentioned in the previous blog, a divorce can be devasting to kids and they all react differently. But there are some behaviors and feelings that are pretty normal for particular ages. Hopefully the blogs this week will help you see what's normal and what may need some additional help. Ages 2-4

Characteristics

  • They are developing more independence at this age and wanting to try to do things "on their own".
  • Their verbal skills are developing so they can express feelings and needs.
  • They are able to keep the absent parent in mind in order to comfort self.

Separation issues:

  • Kids may experience loss of contact with the parent as abandonment
  • They may have a sense of responsibility for separation
  • Kids at this age may feel anxious about needs being met (food, shelter, visitation)

Signs of distress:

  • Regression- meaning they may have lapses in potty training, wanting security blanket or old toys.
  • Experiencing anxiety at bedtime. especially if they are used to the other parent tucking them in or reading/praying with them.
  • Fear of abandonment (you leaving and not coming back)
  • If they are wanting more physical contact
  • If they are showing more irritability or throwing tantrums

Suggestions:

  • Give them more physical comfort
  • Follow a consistent routine- this will help them feel more secure in what is going to happen next.
  • Allow some regression- be patient if potty training lapses or if they want a toy back.
  • They will adapt to longer separations from one parent through frequent visits with the other parent.

Hopefully these suggestions will be helpful for you. Remember, a divorce is difficult for everyone in the family. It can be very helpful to seek professional help even before you see any problems. A therapist can help children (and adults) sort thru the many feelings that come up during this time.

Thank you for reading and continue following for suggestions for ages 5-18 Thursday and Friday. Have a great week!

Source: Impact of Divorce on Children at Different Developmental Stages, Johnson and Roseby, 1997: Solomon 2005

Written by: Tamara Wilhelm

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.