Adjusting to life as a family after divorce is difficult for everyone, especially kids. While your children are still getting used to the concept of you and your ex living in different homes, they have to start going back and forth for placement time. Depending on their ages and feelings about the situation, your kids may have trouble adapting. Fortunately, there are ways to help make things more relaxed for them. Here are five ways to make placement transitions for children easier after divorce:
1. Work Together as Parents to Keep Things Calm
Although you and your ex may have your issues with one another, now is the time to set your differences aside and put your kids first. Be mindful of your comments to one another and body language. Your children are watching you and are already feeling tense. They are likely to pick up on any hostility between you and your ex. Your continuing conflict will only make them feel worse. By keeping your focus off of each other, you can help your kids make a more comfortable switch between households.
2. Be on Time
Kids thrive on consistency and the more they know what to expect, and when events will occur, the less anxious they feel. Unfortunately, divorce has a way of throwing these critical routines out of balance. One way to restore equilibrium and increase your children’s comfort level is by sticking to your placement schedule and being on time. When your kids know they can count on you to show up consistently, it can help them feel safer and more in control of their situation. Additionally, when parents adhere to the parenting schedule, they are demonstrating respect for one another and fostering a positive co-parenting relationship.
3. Be Prepared
Another way to make things easier on your children is to have them packed and ready when it is time to go with the other parent for placement. When your kids get their things together, you can help them make sure they have all of the essentials and any special items that may be comforting when away from your home. Have homework and other necessary things with them as well. If possible, you and the other parent could also work together to make sure there are duplicate items at each residence. That way, each parent can avoid the stress of not having what the children need during placement time, and they can feel more relaxed.
4. Keep Co-parenting out of the Transition
Getting used to co-parenting after divorce can be a strain on both sides. Although seeing each other during transitions can feel like an appropriate time to resolve an ambiguity or issue, it’s not. While you can make time to discuss your disagreements, your primary focus during the placement transition should be peacefully getting your kids from one house to the other. By leaving co-parenting discussions out of the process, you can help minimize tension during the transition.
5. Respect Your Child’s Reactions
Every child is unique, and their reactions to these situations can vary. Some kids may become moody and withdrawn before changing homes. Others may be angry and argumentative with you before going with the other parent. It’s important to remember that your kids could be acting out in your presence because you feel safe. This time is hard on everyone, and it’s vital to be as supportive as you can for your kids as they adjust. If possible, try and help your child talk about their emotions. If he or she can’t or won’t talk with you, you may want to consider finding a child therapist to provide them with support.