How to Explain Divorce to a 4-year-Old
Divorce happens to be one of the most scaring words that a child can hear in the current world. A 4-year-old is a child who in most cases, has started pre-schooling. They do discuss with their peers about their home experiences, and some of them instill fear to the ones who live as a complete family.
If couples break their marriages, children get to be part of the game, and most of them are marred with fear, anxiety, and confusion on what is best for them in life. At the age of four, a child may not have a deeper understanding of divorce, but the fact that the parents will not be living together is a mountain of a challenge to them.
Children in most cases are self-centered in that they think about their safety, environment, and who would take care of them. Whenever a child sees parents walking together, it is an assurance that all is well and that he is in safe hands. However, when the worst strikes and they find that their parents are no longer interested with one another, they get frightened and may think it is because of them that all this is happening.
However, a parent has the core duty to explain divorce to his or her child to be able to settle down faster and move on with life. Many questions arise about how to communicate to your child and in our case, a 4-year-old. Below are some tips that can aid in helping one get out of the pain of talking to your child about divorce, and have open communication that he will understand.
1. Reassure them that they are loved
A young child will only understand that they no longer live with mom and dad in the same house. When questions come up, then it is your time to be calm and answer with wisdom. First of all, assure them that they are loved and appreciated by their parents. However, due to the conditions that relate to work, they are forced to share different houses. To ensure that the word of love remains, let them be assured that even though the father, for instance, is no longer living with them, they still have an opportunity to visit them during the weekends and this could stop them from having unnecessary fears.
2. Create an environment for them to love both parents
Complete Case says: “Do not take sides on showing them that Daddy left them because he hated them”. This will only add more hatred to their dad and also draw conflict with you. You may find that even when you want to discipline them, they will look back on the good experiences they had when the family was complete. They may continue sidelining you and end up being a loser once they grow up. Therefore, hold a neutral position by talking positively about the other parent.
Tell of the good things you have planned for them and in the event you are co-parenting, create harmony with your Ex and allow them time off in your absence to bond with their parent, After all, divorce has two people who are directly affected.
3. Let them know the truth.
You may spare some information on the reasons that made you separate. For example, you cannot break the news to them that you left their father because of adultery. That will be a lack of respect to your EX. Be as truthful as possible. In case they need to know for how long they would stay without their other parent, you may openly discuss custodial parenting and let them know that both of you are still concerned about them and you are arranging for a permanent solution.
4. Answer questions in an understandable way.
Marriage.com says “The child may ask you the reason for your separation, and for them to know that there is no turning back, you may give a simple answer such as you were unable to settle with issues that were affecting you and the solution was to part ways.”
However, reassure them once again that you and your Ex is still concerned about them and they are your esteemed and loved children.
Let them know that their Dad/Mommy is still responsible for their welfare, even in his or her absence.
5. Create an atmosphere to confirm to them that they were not responsible for ending your marriage.
There may have been many fights when you were a family, and it may happen that the children had an experience of the painful moments during the confrontation. They may feel that they contributed towards ending the marriage, but its high time you as apparent need to reassure them that they did not play any role in terminating the marriage. Take full responsibility for what led to ending your marriage.
6. Encourage the child to express his emotions towards your separation.
Once you have shared about your separation, the kids will have different emotions which they will expressly show. You need to be open to them and let them know that some of the status quo issues remain.
For instance, if a child investigates whether you will get back together again, let them know that there are no plans of being together with your EX. However, he or she remains a child to both of you.
You may think that the child is still very young to understand but remember that they have working brains and need to be answered with honesty to avoid a rebellious spirit in the future.
7. Have a positive focus for their future.
They may ask questions as to who will take care of them. It’s essential to help them understand that even in the absence of the other parent, life must continue and if anything must change, it will only change for better.
Give them hope that they are destined for greatness, and they will attend good schools and enjoy life just like other kids. Let them know that they will still take vacations and, and if they would want to be with their other partner, they will still be given time to go on vacation with them.
This will encourage them, and they will change any negative perception about their lives.
Once you explain all these to them, it’s critical that you take full responsibility for their emotional needs to prevent any hurt in their emotions. As such, there are several things you should not do to the children once you have separated.
– Never call your Ex names out of pain when the children are there. Imagine a situation where they would repeat the same names once they meet their other parent. It can be a total disgrace and create a deep rift with the kids.
– Do not let the children become your messager- Always talk to your Ex directly. Let them know that you still respect each other in as much as there are boundaries set for your communication, which is mostly civil.
– Let there be no competition between you and your Ex that the children can openly see. Instead, keep your secrets to yourself as it will bring conflicts which may make your partner stop the mutual support upon the children. This would cause the family to suffer more.
When you take your child through a proper way in communication and teach them to understand the situations as they are, then you are lest assured that these memories will not fade from their minds and that they will live up to be responsible people. Once they grow up, they will still remember the communication you made to them about your separation, and this alone will make them re-correct their ways to avoid such an experience in their lives. When this is said, wouldn’t you enjoy seeing your child living with positive memories? Yes, your children deserve to be involved in open and truthful communication, and they will respect you from the rest of their lives.