Call to Schedule an Appointment

How to Help Children at Every Age Cope With Divorce

Divorce is hard on everyone in the family from parents to their children. The process of divorce can be stressful by itself, and when parents are also coping with how to talk to their children about what is happening in a way that will help them transition, it can be challenging to understand what to say and do. Trying to figure out how to explain everything appropriately and understanding what your children can comprehend is not easy. 


What can Children Understand by Age?




Babies aged birth to18 months do not have the capacity to understand all the details behind why they feel negative emotions like tension. If the intensity of such emotions is fairly constant, it can cause young babies to be chronically fussy, especially clingy, and even result in developmental regression.


Paying more attention and offering extra affection can help. Keeping a solid routine including meals, nap, and sleep time is also a critical action to take because it will help your baby feel secure. Any special items or toys that comfort your baby should be kept close.



From approximately 18 months to just about three years of age, children are most bonded with parents. When there are significant changes at home or the temperament of parents becomes hostile, it is not easy to understand for toddlers. At this age, a child can internalize what they are experiencing and believe they are the reason mommy and daddy are no longer together. Symptoms of distress they can exhibit include developmental regression, inability to sleep, skittishness, fear of being alone, and more crying fits. 


Here again, routines become important to support a stable and secure environment. Spending quality time together, giving extra love, and being patient and tender can help. Talk with them and reassure them the breakup was not their fault.


Young Children


Preschool-aged children will also be confused and think they played a part in you and your ex-spouse’s breakup. Even if their living environment is hostile and unpleasant due to arguing, for instance, they will still want mommy and daddy to stay together. Staying consistent in your message that they are not to blame is important. Talking with them about what is happening and allowing them to openly relate how they feel can ease the emotional burden.


Older Children


Children who have spent many years in a home with two loving parents can have varied responses to news of divorce. They may feel abandoned and become more introverted or detached from developing relationships with others. They may even shy away from social situations. They could also become angry and pick sides with one parent over the other. They may also engage in bad behavior or experience stomach issues and headaches more frequently.


Spend as much time as you can with your child. Talk with them about how they feel and keep them assured that you and your ex are not leaving them. Let them know you both are here for them. Keeping visits on a regular and consistent schedule allows for predictability, which is comforting and shows your child that you and your ex can still be relied upon.


Are You and Your Spouse Divorcing and Need Legal Representation in Indiana?


Christopher L. Arrington, P.C. works with couples and families dealing with divorce. I understand that it is not an easy situation and I have compassion for parents and children that are working through the process. I will help your family find an agreeable solution in the smoothest way possible so you all can healthily transition to the next chapter in your lives.


Christopher L. Arrington, P.C. is a trusted and respected Indiana family law attorney who cares about helping families see the best possible outcome for their unique situation. Call Christopher L. Arrington, P.C. today at our Danville family law firm to schedule your free consultation at (317) 745-4494.

« Back to Arrington Law Help Center