Children in Transition

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January 25, 2011

Parenting time transitions between households will be easiest for children if both parents resolve to always put their children’s needs first. Because children are skilled readers of non-verbal communication, parents should make sure both their actions and words provide a positive example for their children. At the transition, choose a business-like and polite demeanor. Transitions should remain neutral, untainted by any discussion of pending legal issues. If you are professional, calm, and collected, the transitions will be less stressful for everyone involved.

Parents must prepare their children emotionally and physically for the transition and visit with the other parent. Since children respond well to routine, establish a ritual with your children to help them prepare for upcoming visits and activities. Keep a calendar at home for the children to refer to in anticipation of future visits. Be sure to remind children in the days prior to any visit that it will occur; it is unfair to “surprise” them by announcing a visit without allowing them time to mentally prepare. Help your children assemble a well-packed bag that includes clean clothing, homework, toys, and personal items.

Don’t become overwhelmed if the transitions seem initially unnatural. Remember that although children may appear anxious at transitions, they are not necessarily anxious throughout the entire visit. The steps you take to help children prepare for the transition can set the tone for the rest of the visit, and will help children to relax and enjoy the other parent’s company.