Raising toddlers can be both exciting and exhausting. Full of energy and emotion, these years are an important part of their development. They are constantly learning about how to communicate, and they are also building personality trait that can carry with them as they grow. Toddlers are beginning to be able to understand more about what's going on around them, so when the parents of toddlers separate or divorce, the children can grasp the fact that something has changed. Co-parenting toddlers after divorce will come with its challenges, but employing the right parenting strategies can help everyone get through it successfully.
Talking to Toddlers
While toddlers are at the age where they are beginning to understand more of what's going on around them, they may not recognize what's happening right away during their parents' separation or divorce. They will notice that immediately things are different, such as changes to their routine and the fact that their parents aren't spending time together like they used to. Your toddler's age and stage of development will help you as a parent to know how much they can understand about the situation. In many cases, toddlers should be told something to help them get what's happening. Keep your explanation brief, using words that they understand. As best you can, you and your co-parent can explain to your toddler that you won't all be living together anymore. Most importantly, reassure them that even though things may be changing, you both love them very much and will still both be there to care for them. Make certain to your toddler that your break up is not their fault. If they have questions, do your best to answer them in a way that they can understand. Also, reading age-appropriate stories and books to your toddler can help you to help your child understand what's going on.
Routine is Key
Like most kids, toddlers thrive when they are on a steady routine. They might not be able to verbalize much about their regular agenda, but toddlers do like it when they can predict what will happen in their day. They may express this by acting out less and having fewer tantrums or emotional outbursts. That's not to say that they won't act out at all, especially during the onset of the transition from their old routine to the new one. If you can maintain a steady routine of parenting time exchanges as well as meals, bedtimes, and play, your toddler has a better chance of becoming accustomed to your new routine sooner.
Show Lots of Love and Support
Toddlers need a little extra comfort and support in moments of difficulty, so now's the time to give it to them. Give them a few extra hugs, take a little extra time to tuck them into bed at night, and tell them often how loved they are by both of their parents. Make sure your child knows that they will see and be cared for by both parents; this might mean that you'll be reassuring them of the same thing several times a day. Co-parenting should be like a partnership where both parents are doing their best to raise healthy kids, and part of doing so is to promote the love that you both have for your toddler. Keep yourself from saying mean-spirited things about your co-parent in front of your toddler, even if you think they don't understand what you're saying. Even toddlers can sense stress and negative tone of voice, and that will have an impact on their emotions.
Co-parenting toddlers after divorce won't last long, as they will grow into kids, then into teens, then into young adults. However, the way that you and your co-parent handle raising your toddler during these few but crucial years of development can have a big effect on who they grow up to be.