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What can I do if my child is having behavioural problems when visiting the other parent?

What can I do if my child is having behavioural problems when visiting the other parent?

little boy pulling a tongue

Co-parenting can be a difficult journey, filled with challenges and adjustments, especially when behavioural problems arise during visits with the other parent. It’s important to address these issues with empathy and understanding and to adopt a collaborative approach for the well-being of the child involved.

In this blog, we will look at effective strategies for managing behavioural problems in the context of co-parenting, highlighting the importance of positive communication and displaying a united front.

Understanding Behavioural Problems

Separation and divorce are not only challenging for the couple involved but can also significantly impact the children caught in this transition. Children tend to be intuitive and often pick up on subtle cues and underlying tensions between their parents.

Lingering animosity, unresolved conflicts, or emotional distress stemming from the separation can create a sense of instability and insecurity for the child.  These emotions may manifest as behavioural problems during visits with the other parent.

Here are some of the key underlying factors:

Adjustment Issues – Children may struggle to adapt to different rules, routines, and environments between households.

Emotional Distress – Divorce or separation can evoke strong emotions in children, leading to behavioural changes as a form of coping or expression.

Communication Barriers – Lack of effective communication between co-parents can exacerbate misunderstandings and contribute to behavioural challenges.

Unresolved Conflict – Lingering tension or unresolved issues between co-parents may impact the child’s emotional well-being and behaviour.

Strategies for Positive Co-Parenting

Open Communication

Establishing open and honest communication channels between co-parents is very Important.  By maintaining transparent lines of communication, co-parents create a platform for sharing concerns, insights, and updates regarding their child’s well-being and development. Regular check-ins serve as valuable opportunities for both parents to exchange information, discuss any challenges or successes the child may be experiencing, and address any emerging issues promptly. These discussions foster a sense of collaboration and mutual support, enabling co-parents to work together as a cohesive unit whilst raising a child across two households.

Additionally, open communication helps mitigate misunderstandings, reduces conflict, and strengthens the foundation of trust between co-parents, ultimately contributing to a more positive co-parenting dynamic and providing a stable, nurturing environment that promotes the child’s growth and happiness.

Family Mediation and Counselling

In cases where conflicts persist between co-parents, seeking family mediation or counselling services can offer a constructive and neutral platform for addressing differences and finding helpful solutions that work. Family mediators and counsellors are trained professionals who specialise in facilitating productive conversations and resolving disputes in a supportive and impartial environment.

The two roles are there to achieve different things. Let’s take a look:

Family mediators – Help with resolving disputes on parenting (and financial) matters. Replaces going to court and if often a pre-requisite before court. They work with you to decide on specific issues, such as which school a child should attend or to agree a holiday abroad. Alternatively, they can help parents discuss the arrangements for the child or a full parenting plan.

Counsellors – Can help with how you communicate as parents and provide support on your parenting relationship.

By providing a neutral space, these professionals help co-parents explore the underlying issues contributing to their conflicts and work towards mutually beneficial resolutions. They also offer valuable insights and tools to help co-parents navigate challenging situations, establish clear boundaries, and prioritise the best interests of their child.

Ultimately, family mediation and/or counselling services empower co-parents to overcome obstacles, strengthen their co-parenting partnership, and create a more harmonious and supportive environment for their child’s well-being and development.

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Consistent Routines

Maintaining consistent routines and expectations across both households can provide stability and security for the child. Coordinating schedules and adopting similar rules can minimise confusion and alleviate behavioural disruptions.

By working together to maintain consistency in routines and expectations, co-parents demonstrate their commitment to prioritising the child’s well-being and minimising the stress of transitioning between households.

Empathy and Understanding

Recognise that each co-parent may have different parenting styles and perspectives. Approaching disagreements with empathy and understanding can prevent conflicts and promote a supportive co-parenting environment. Rather than viewing differences as obstacles, they can embrace them as opportunities for growth, compromise and collaboration.

This involves actively listening to each other’s concerns, perspectives, and underlying motivations without judgment or criticism. It also requires a willingness to consider alternative viewpoints and explore creative solutions that accommodate both parents’ needs while prioritising the child’s well-being.

Encourage Positive Reinforcement

Focus on reinforcing positive behaviour rather than solely addressing negative actions. By highlighting and celebrating the child’s positive behaviours, co-parents create an environment that fosters self-esteem, confidence, and a sense of accomplishment.

Moreover, positive reinforcement enhances the parent-child relationship by strengthening the bond of trust and mutual respect. When children feel valued and appreciated for their efforts, they are more likely to communicate openly, seek guidance, and cooperate with their parents.

Further Help

Reaching out to the school can be helpful to see if the child’s behaviour differs when at school to being at home. They can also advise on getting help from a child psychologist to assess your child at school.

If you feel your child may be on the autism spectrum, or has ADHD, you can ask your GP for assistance as a first step.

Summary

Little girl dressed as and angel and littl eboy dressed as a devilDealing with behavioural problems in co-parenting requires patience, empathy, and a commitment to positive engagement. By prioritising open communication, mutual respect and consistent routines, co-parents can create a supportive environment that fosters the healthy development of their children.

Incorporating family meditation and mindfulness practices further enhances the co-parenting experience by promoting self-awareness, emotional regulation and effective conflict resolution.

Co-parents can work collaboratively to address behavioural challenges and nurture a positive co-parenting relationship to benefit their child’s well-being.

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