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How can I help my 3-yr old niece deal with her parents divorce?

My niece's parents are divorcing and she is acting out. Her father left and moved out of state and the mother has the child, how should she handle this. The child has told her that she doesnt like her and it is her fault. This upsets mom a great deal, any suggestions? I know that this will happen but how do we help it?


Asked by mybabyangels73 at 5:31 PM on Jun. 16, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (6)
  • First of all the little girl obviously does comprehend things bc she is acting out. There are several things your sister can do.
    First of all, make sure there is a steady routine. Especially in times of chaos this is important to children, a regular routine or schedule brings order to her chaotic world.
    Second make sure she gets extra attention without allowing her to get away with bad behavior. Whatever the rules and standards were then they should be now but there should also be special one on one time spent daily, so that the little girl realizes she is still very important to mommy., Even reading together or playing together counts.
    Third, she needs ways to express herself that are healthy. Repition is key with small kids. Give a new practice about two weeks to begin working. Personally when my daughter said what your niece said I would remain calm.

    Answer by NightOwlMama at 9:26 PM on Jun. 16, 2009

  • A THREE yr old told her mom it's her fault daddy left? Very mature 3 yr old since they don't understand divorce and the concept of fault. Tell her to just carry on with her daily routine. Little kids adjust. They don't know about marriage and divorce. They just live life day by day. She's probably reacting to the mom's negative energy. Tell the mom to focus on positive things in the child's life and everything will be fine. She can't "explain" adult stuff to a toddler.

    Answer by admckenzie at 5:37 PM on Jun. 16, 2009

  • I don't know if there is a real way to tell a 3 yr old about this kid of stuff. my parents divorced when i was young as well. i know how it was dealing with it and it wasn't very good. my dad told me that mom didn't want me, which was totally untrue. but u guys can try and sit her down and try to explain but i dont think that @ the age they will understand. good luck either way.

    Answer by lildiva23 at 7:52 PM on Jun. 16, 2009

  • THey have books on divorce that are very good i have read one at the library just to see i am a preschool teacher...have mom sit down and tell her what is going on but not in should always tell your children when something major happens...tell mom to say something like...daddy wanted to leave bc he doesnt love mommy as much as he did but he will always love you more than anything...just keep reminding her that daddy does love her...and she is prolly saying that stuff to mom bc she heard it somewhere...a 3 yr old repeats what they say in correct context after they hear it serveal times...when she gets older explain more and when she is old enough and askes what happened tell mom to tell her the whole truth...even if it hurts her trust me i am 23 yrs old my parents have been divorced for 22 yrs....and i have no idea what happened they wont tell me they say its for my own good...that lil girl needs to know

    Answer by pebbles425 at 9:13 PM on Jun. 16, 2009

  • I would tell her this "I understand you are upset, but you may not talk to mommy that way. Do you want to talk about why you are upset?" Its important to realize that even at 3 her feelings are valid, and that she SHOULD express them but in healthy ways and not destructive ones. I would find other outlets for anger like drawing or acting things out with dolls, etc.
    Fourth there should be other outlets for the little girl, one should be focused on expression with her peers, such as a preschool art class or music class, (which can be found free in many places) or just a get together that focuses on arts and crafts. Also she should have some sort of counseling. The counselor will be able to offer unbiased support to both mother and child and will be able to help with ideas for coping and letting out anger in healthy ways. Shop around for counselors. What may be right for one person will be very wrong for another.

    Answer by NightOwlMama at 9:46 PM on Jun. 16, 2009

  • Lastly there are several websites and books. is good. is a good article. And really just google "divorce and preschoolers" for a load of resources. And as far as a good workbook, barnes and noble or will have any of these.
    Bernard, by Bernard Waber
    Bernard the dog runs away while his owners argue about who will keep him when they break up.
    Dinosaur's Divorce, by Lawrence Brown
    Through a dinosaur family, the writer of the Arthur children's books explains divorce in a simple and straightforward way.
    My Family Is Changing: A First Look at Family Breakup, by Pat Thomas
    Sometimes A Family Has To Split Up, by J. Watson
    Tots Are Non-Divorceable: A Workbook for Divorced Parents and Their Children, Ages Birth to Five Years, by Sara Bonkowski
    Sorry my answer is so long but I hope I helped.

    Answer by NightOwlMama at 9:57 PM on Jun. 16, 2009