Helping Infants and Toddlers Adjust to Divorce (MU Extension)

Helping Infants and ToddlersFrom MU Extension at the University of Missouri-Columbia, “Helping Infants and Toddlers Adjust to Divorce” specifically addresses how divorce impacts infants and toddlers.  Too many people believe that divorce does not impact these kids because they are young.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The article explains:

During their first three years of life, children grow quickly, become mobile, learn language, begin to understand how the world works and form social relationships. Environmental changes such as parental divorce can affect a child’s development, but parents have the power to help their children adjust to family changes.

Beginning with younger infants (birth to 8 months), this article explains that, “Infants do not understand divorce  However, infants pick up on changes in their parents’ feelings and behaviors.”

The article also explains the reactions of older infants (8 to 18 months) and toddlers (18 months to 3 years) and includes special sections to address:

  • Parent-child attachment relationships and divorce
  • Encouraging infants and toddlers to express emotions
  • Reducing the stress of divorce for infants and toddlers

The article includes links to additional resources on helping infants and toddlers and concludes with the observation:

Divorce is confusing for infants and toddlers, who pick up on changes in emotions and contact with each parent.

Ideally, both parents remain in the child’s life and contact with each parent is frequent without long separations. The most important thing you can do is to continue to nurture your child and provide them with structure.



For more resources and information on divorce, family disruption and modern families please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Divorce and Modern Family Help Center.
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Written by Wayne Stocks
Wayne is the founder and executive director of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. He is a happily married father of four kids with a passion for helping young people who are going through rough times. In addition to Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne previously started I Am A Child of Divorce and Divorce Ministry 4 Kids to help kids who are dealing with the disruption of their parents' relationship. These are now part of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Wayne speaks frequently at conferences and churches on issues related to helping kids learn to deal with difficult emotions and life in modern families. Wayne lives with his wife, three youngest kids, three dogs and an insane collection of his kids' other pets outside of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to his work with Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne is a partner in a local consulting firm, an avid reader, coaches his son's soccer team and is a proud supporter of Leicester City Football Club (and yes, for those in know, his affinity for the club does predate the 2016 championship). You can reach Wayne at