During divorce, a preschooler’s fear of abandonment manifests itself in various forms of separation anxiety. When parents become separated, Pre-School often fear that any negative thought about a parent has come true.
They think that they’re now being punished for a bad wish or angry thought. This type of magical thinking can even prevent children from asking why the divorce is happening. After all, they might find out it really is their fault, as they suspect.
• Children at this age need to be told repeatedly they’re not being punished, and that they’re in no way responsible for what is happening. They need to hear that a parent leaving does not mean they’re unloved or unlovable.
• Understand there will be added anxiety concerns when leaving the custodial parent. Given a child’s immature thought process, abandonment is a real fear (“gee, if Daddy left, might not Mommy too?”)
• Possessiveness, whether it be for toys or a parent can also be an effort on the part of a child to regain control literally, to hold on to things, when so many events are out of control.
• Be patient with a child who has become overly sensitive to real or imagined injuries. This may be just an expression of a need to be fussed over and to be cared about.
Vicki Lansky’s practical, common sense approach to parenting is familiar to millions throughout the world. Vicki’s first book, Feed Me, I’m Yours, published in 1974, and still one of the most popular baby/toddler food cookbooks in the country, was followed by The Taming of the C.A.N.D.Y. Monster, a #1 New York Times bestseller. Her other titles include: Toilet Training, Birthday Parties Best Party Tips & Ideas For Ages 1-8, Dear Babysitter Handbook, Welcoming Your Second Baby, Getting Your Child to Sleep … and Back to Sleep, Trouble-free Travel with Children, Baby Proofing Basics and Games Babies Play From Birth to Twelve Months, Koko Bear’s New Potty, A New Baby at Koko Bear’s House, Koko Bear and the New Babysitter, and Koko Bear’s Big Earache. Vicki Lansky’s Divorce Book for Parents: Helping Children Cope with Divorce and Its Aftermath