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Psychological effects of divorce on toddlers

by | Oct 28, 2016

Psychological effects of divorce on toddlers

Can you place yourself in the psyche of a toddler and then think about the divorce.

The first thing one must realise is that at that age (1-2) toddlers are still egocentrically geared for learning.

“The terrible twos” is when they become mobile, in physical terms – walking etc and in speech terms too…  There is the physical and emotional separation that is occurring.  There are also neurobiological and physiological changes taking place – I AM ME, the SELF. This can be a sad time for the parent as a change in the relationship is occurring – give your child the best wings with which to fly…

They have just come to terms that you (the mother more often than not) is not part of them and they are in that frame of mind… I am me and I can move this hand, finger, what does it taste like? How does it feel? And in the mouth it goes…

Toddlers psychologically understand and comprehend their name around 41/2 months so when you are discussing the day with friends or spouse they listen! “Toddlers can clearly understand complex conversation long before their parents think they can.”  Jean Berko Gleason, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Boston University and author of The Development of Language (Allyn & Bacon, 1996). He then goes on to explain “There is often a huge difference between receptive language and expressive language at this age,” And by 14 months they can read social cues: When we get angry, our voices get louder, our movements jerkier, and our breathing more rapid. By contrast, when we’re happy, we tend to speak gently and softly and to move and breathe more slowly. says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia and coauthor of How Babies Talk: The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life (Penguin, 1999).

stuffingspagettifalkFrom age 21 months they learn about nine new words per day!! So watch out, for that’s the time toddlers not only know you are talking about them but also understand the meaning of what you are saying. Care here needs to be in what you say. If you are with friends who equally have toddlers (and that’s generally the case -well it was for me) and you gals are moaning and complaining that toddler does this wrong or is very boisterous, or Jane is the quieter one… as if they were not in the room then they will act accordingly probably decoding it later on in life. So it is important to talk to your toddler as if he is a person, rather than talking of him with him in the room.

Your toddler’s psychological effects are strong regardless of divorce!

We have seen above that they pay attention to everything, that the words you use about them and to them should be the same.  You can’t coucou the baby then turn around and tell the father the baby’s driving you nuts!!

Unhappy with their arguments

Unhappy with their arguments

So the psychological effects of divorce on toddler’s comes into play long before the act of the separation! The toddler is:

  • hearing the shouting matches,
  • witnessing the body language and
  • may even find solace in the tranquility of the separation.

How can you handle the toddler’s psychological effects of the divorce?

Talk to them honestly. Do not confuse the baby with an adult’s shoulder to cry on but you can tell the baby honestly what has happened and the consequences and repercussions this will have on them. I personally do not believe in saying things like ‘it’s great you’ll have 2 houses’ or going down that road, but I strongly believe ‘Mother’s just know what and how to react’

It does no good to make yourself feel guilty about the fact that one of the spouses is not there for sometimes during the early years of an infants life the father (generally) is away on business, or working all hours and is not home when the baby is awake. So that one can be put to rest.

There is already the initial separation of the toddler-mother as they start to be:

  • aware
  • mobile
  • talk

For the interest of the transition of toddlerhood

All these factors make the relationship a little difficult at the best of times. Add to that the divorce then I believe that the child may have a rougher time if it is separated from the mother. Whilst I understand that it is tough on fathers they really should think of the child and not separated it at all during this transition phase of toddlerhood.

These are my views and only engage my understanding of the psychology of the toddler during the divorce phase.

I speak from experiences with mothers that are my friend’s experiences, and the research I have done. Personally I thank the father of our children for respecting their wishes.

Admittedly they were well over toddlerhood but nevertheless they did not want to see him initially. Then it was for a weekend here and there, and now he gets them during the vacations for the little one, now 12, does not want to live with dad during term time, so she said no to one week :one week routine. She is ok for the weekends but just not during school. So that’s great I get the homework and tight bed schedules and he gets the weekends. Not all of them and sometimes not for a long time but that’s our arrangement.

I also believe for the toddler that routines are the only thing that will make their life structured and balanced. If one parent is not so strict about the bedtime then that really throws a spanner in the works and the child’s sleep schedule is awry – a huge mistake for the toddler’s chances to have a happy time.

The toddler’s only concern is his development. What is happening in the family outside his own person is very influential to his well being but only in the sense that they give examples and children copy.

What should you do?

THINK OF THE TODDLER – he just wants love and cuddles when he falls.

Perhaps the father should not have the infant for a while, just have him during the day and bring him back during the night so toddler can sleep in his bed with Mummy close by.

The psychological effects of divorce on the toddler depends on how he is treated. He is a human being first and foremost.

My why is to bring joy and honour to you, so that you may shine and know you are worthy of peace.

Having gone from a violent relationship (27 years) to single Mum with 4 children, I worked hard. The mind is everything and without a good mindset you can do nothing of value.

I now run my own business, have my own workshops, create my own products and live the life I make for myself. It really all took shape when I met Jay and Stuart. Twas a blessing that I would wish on every single person who is in any violence.

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