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How can you help children with a divorce?

In a divorce, you have many things to think about. If you have children, the main thought on your mind might be how to talk to your children about the impending divorce. How can you explain what's happening, especially if you have children of different ages?

Talking about a divorce can be complicated at young ages, but easing a transition is possible. For example, if you have an infant or child under 18 months, they may not understand what is happening or even remember it later. Keeping a routine and being consistent helps keep your child happy.

For toddlers, it's the connection to their parents that is most important. Try to maintain consistency. It's normal for children this age to know something's wrong but not understand. If your child is having trouble expressing his or her emotions, try reading books about them or talk about expressing them with words.

Once children get slightly older, you may be able to start telling them about the divorce in plain terms. For example, telling a 5-year-old child that mom and dad want to take a break and live in different houses might be a simple explanation. Those between 3 and 6 might act out because they have no way to control what happens, but if you and your spouse try to act positive about what's happening when around your child, it could help ease the transition.

In most cases, children need balance, routine and compassion when going through a divorce with their parents. Knowing that you're there to support them can help make it easier. Try to avoid fighting in front of your kids; your attorney can help you and your spouse negotiate if you are struggling with disagreements.

Source: Parents, "Age-by-Age Guide to What Children Understand About Divorce," Laura Broadwell, accessed May 12, 2017

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