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Friday, December 2,2011

Back and Forth

From Mom's to Dad's

By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller  

Seven Ways to Ease the Transition

Does your child have a tough time going from Mom's to Dad's? Does she take a while to settle in? Does he resist getting out of the car? Does she make up stories at one end or the other? Does he cry when it’s time to leave? If so, it might be time to apply some of the following suggestions for a more easeful transition.

1. When your child arrives at your home, concentrate on helping him connect with you and your place. As soon as he arrives, focus on what happens when he’s there. Play his favorite game. Give him his favorite snack. Welcome him back with the stuff and activities that help him feel connected to this place. Spend some time playing and interacting in his room. For the first hour, focus on this house.

2. Do not talk about or ask your child what she has been doing at her mother's. That can come later. Definitely refrain from asking questions about her mother. This places the child in the middle. It is not her job to take care of you or her mother. Let her be the child.

3. After the initial reconnect period, give your child a vision of what WE will be doing this weekend. This takes away the fear of the unknown. Explain or show what is coming up for him. Don't have it be all Disneyland adventures. Just give him some idea of what to expect. With a 3-6 year old it would be good to storyboard upcoming events with pictures. If you're planning to build a snowman, put up a picture of one. Do the same with going to the zoo, reading his favorite books, eating together, etc.

4. Before it's time to leave and go back to Mom's, debrief the weekend. Review with your child what you shared together, taking turns telling about favorite activities. Point out if she learned something new or did something different. "You learned a new word." "You slept in." "You played Chutes and Ladders."

5. Then move to talking about the upcoming week at Mom's. Talk about a few of the things your child can expect there. "Mrs. Smith, your preschool teacher, will be excited to see you." "Your dog will be waiting for you." "You'll probably have your favorite meal at Mom's." "I will be calling you during the week." Create a vision for him of what happens at Mom's.

6. Send your child back with something to show and tell at preschool, something to talk to her classmates or her mother about. When you do this, you are helping her let go while simultaneously giving her a piece of the weekend to hang onto.

7. Share with your child's mom important things about the weekend that she might need to know: how a bruise was created, how gently he held a frog, a new book he asked to have read to him again and again. If the two of you can get on the same page with transitions, and both of you implement the suggestions above, it will make your child's life much more relaxing and peaceful.

Transitions are not easy for a child at any age. Make them smoother with the ideas above. Your child is worth it. And so are you.


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