When your children move from house to house whether every other weekend or every week, there is always a “settling-in time” at each home that is challenging for kids and parents. When my stepson Drew, would come home In spite of the excitement, I noticed a change in his behavior. It took about three days to settle in to our routine. Fortunately, I knew this was normal. I also take about three days to settle in when I stay somewhere different. It makes sense that going from one parent to the other would be an adjustment. Not to mention a step mom and a step dad in the mix.
The switch is a reminder of the split and a heightened mix of feelings involving basic human needs. Remember how your child gets their needs met with mom is going to be different with dad. When these needs: loved, value, and belonging and power are not met kids act out. Kids often misbehave during this time and parents worry it is a sign of a difficult visit with the other parent, or take it personally believing their child isn’t glad to see them. While these are possibilities, the most common cause of acting out in the transition time is because the switch is hard, plain and simple. I also notice a change in Drew’s behavior right before he left. It was his way of detaching. Saying goodbye is a little easier if there is a little tension in the air.
Here are a few tips that have helped kids and parents alike:
Talk to your child about how hard it is to go back and forth and that you realize they might be “grumpy” or not want to talk when they first get home. Your understanding of how things look from their eyes will help them feel loved, and connected.
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Susan Dockerill has ten years of teaching children in public, private, and military schools at home and abroad, plus 17 years teaching and mediating with parents and teachers. Susan has the expertise to speak frankly about marriage, divorce, children, and being responsible for living the life of your dreams.
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