Study: Divorce Affects Babies and Toddlers More

Posted on May 27, 2012
Researchers at Georgetown University have found that divorce can adversely affect children under the age of five more than older children.

According to counselor and divorce study author Miriam Itkowitz, the end of a marriage is harder on younger children simply because they are at a developmental stage in life where stability and routine are very important to healthy growth. Toddlers and babies have more needs than older children and are more attached to their parents.

At the same time, toddlers and babies often do not have the communication skills to talk about how they are feeling about the divorce – or to understand what exactly is happening and why. While parents can often explain to older children that a divorce is not their fault and that they are still loved, younger children may feel that they are to blame or that the situation will never improve.

The researchers stressed that delaying divorce until a child is older may be even more detrimental to a child’s development – and that simply being aware that divorce is often tougher for younger children can help families navigate divorce in the healthiest manner.

In addition, parents can take steps to make divorce easier for younger children such as spending quality time alone with their kids, talking to their kids about the changes in their lives, and making sure that kids are able to keep a normal routine. In some cases, therapy could be helpful for toddlers or for older children who struggle with their parents’ divorce earlier in their life.

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