I used to think my child was Teflon strong and super resilient. As a child of divorce, she didn’t exhibit any of the textbook behaviors that I was cautioned and counseled over and over. “Children of divorce are ‘at risk'” I was told by one well-meaning counselor. “At risk for what?” I replied. “A multitude of adverse behaviors that come with difficult transitions going from one home to another, year after year,” the counselor clarified. “The children of divorce are always saying goodbyeand transitions are a bit haphazard,” she concluded. So, what can you do as a parent to help your child transition? We’ve outlined 10 useful ideas:
- Be prepared. Have your children ready to go at the designated time. Make sure they have the things they will need for their time with the other parent. Pay attention to book bags, lunch boxes, homework, band instruments, sports equipment, time-sensitive forms and permission slips, medication and special or favorite clothing and toys.
- Be on time.If you are going to be late, always call to let your children and the other parent know. Follow the agreed-upon schedule. Make sure your children are aware of the schedule and know when they will be with each parent.
- The less ‘lugging’ the better. Ensure the other parent has the basic needs at their home so that your children have what they need at each home, such as toothbrushes, hairbrushes, undies, socks, gym clothes, etc. This becomes especially important when children move between homes frequently.
- Reinforce to your child that while they don’t want to leave where they are, that they will have a great time with the other parent. (Even if you despise the other parent).
- Learn your child’s style. Some children become quiet and moody around transitions. Others may act out. These are usually normal behaviors for children whose parents are divorced. Give your children the understanding and “space” to make transitions in their own unique style.
- Put your children’s needs first. Work to make transitions smooth and routine. Stick to the task at hand – shifting children from one parent’s care to the other’s.
- This is not the time to conduct co-parenting business. Schedule a separate, child-free time to discuss things with the other parent. Never ask your children to carry things between parents.
- Create a conflict-free zone. Watch what you say and do. Even be aware of your non-verbal communication. Remember, your children are watching.
- Use natural transitions in the daily routine. Make use of the school or daycare schedule. For example, one parent drops children off at school and the other picks them up. I always utilized a ‘treat’ place, such as a family dinner, ice cream, or store to ease the shift of homes.
Children of divorce do not have to endure a rockier road than they already have; by following these few tips, you will help to alleviate the issues and reduce the potential for heart-breaking transitions
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