Helping children adapt to their new living arrangements

Helping children adapt to their new living arrangements
No matter the custody arrangement, your child’s day-to-day life will change. Here are some suggestions on how to make the transition easier.

No matter the custody arrangement, your child’s day-to-day life will change. Here are some suggestions on how to make the transition easier.

  • Encourage the relationship between your child and her other parent. In the early stages of a breakup, it’s normal to hold a grudge or not want to see your ex. But nothing has changed for your child, and she needs to see both her parents on a regular basis. “That’s why decisions that concern your child should be made based on her needs and not to spite your ex,” says Francyne Tessier, a psychotherapist at Réseau d’aide aux familles en transition. For instance, if your child is missing her other parent, feel free to let her call.
  • Remind your child of what’s going to happen. Reassure her by giving her concrete information using words she can understand. For example: “Tomorrow, you’re staying at Mom’s. You’ll get to sleep in your new bed!”
  • Try to create a positive atmosphere when switching from one home to the other. When changeovers go badly and parents argue, the child can end up feeling responsible for the separation. “When that happens, it’s better to make the changeovers in a neutral location,” suggests researcher Amandine Baude. For instance, one parent can drop the child off at daycare in the morning and the other can pick her up at the end of the day.
  • Set up similar routines. Routines provide young children with stability and security, so you should try to maintain them as much as possible. “Parents should agree on the broad strokes, without being inflexible,” advises social worker and family mediator Lorraine Filion. “So long as your child’s needs are met, you have to accept that the other person does certain things a different way.”
  • Resist the temptation to interrogate your child. What did you do on the weekend? What did you eat? Did anyone come over? “It’s not a good idea to ask your child a lot of questions to find out what she did with her other parent,” says Francyne Tessier. “It might stress her out, especially if she feels like what she says upsets you.”
  • Reassure your child during changeovers. If your little one has a favourite blankie or stuffed animal, be sure to pop it in her backpack when she’s switching homes. “You can tell her you put a lot of hugs in her stuffy,” says Tessier. “That way, the stuffed animal can give her a hug for you when she’s at her other house.” Showing and telling your child that you love her can make changeovers easier.

 

Photo: GettyImages/vasyl_dolmatov

 

Naitre et grandir.com

Source: Naître et grandir magazine, November 2018
Research and copywriting: Nathalie Vallerand
Scientific review: François St-Père, psychologist and family mediator