How do I improve transitions for kids between two homes?

We know that toxic stress and chronic conflict negatively impacts kids’ development.  When you are separated and need to deal with facilitating a parenting schedule and exchanging kids, stress and conflict can occur especially at the point of the exchange.

Here are some tips to reduce conflict during exchanges and improve kids’ experiences of transition times:

  1. Reduce the number of exchanges – the more conflict between the parents, the less number of exchanges the better.  This will naturally reduce the interactions between the parents and thereby reduce the opportunity for conflict.
  2. Quick / Simple / Neutral exchanges – during an exchange, keep the conversation to a minimum (the kids are right there and hear everything).  There is a tendency to be on better behaviour when in public places so it may be a good idea to arrange a neutral drop off point.
  3. Be patient with your kids – each parent’s home will be different – routines, expectations, rules, etc.  Kids need time to transition just as you need time to move from kid-free to kid-saturated.
  4. Give kids some down-time – once you get home from the exchange, keep at least the first few hours plan-free.  Read your kids – maybe they need downtime, or maybe they need to sit and chat, or maybe they want to go to the park with you.  Putting the ball in their court will get everyone comfortable as quickly as possible.

What are your triggers for conflict with the other parent?  Find ways to avoid these triggers.  When you’re your kids most at ease / relaxed?  Do what you can to get your kids to that state.  By avoiding chronic conflict and toxic stress, you will be positively impacting your children’s development.  It’s not divorce that’s negative for kids – it’s conflict that’s negative.



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