Even if you and your ex understand each other well, transitions that occur during a separation or divorce can be difficult for children.
Think of all the things that are going on for them:
Want more? Read help for divorced children
These challenges are often reflected in your child's behavior. In moods and tantrums, whining and moaning. Oh. And full attitude.
"Dad says I can see what I want."
"YOU never let me do anything!"
"I can't wait to get out of here!"
And transitions can be just as difficult for fellow parents.
After this time, you just want to go back smoothly.
You want to know that things are fine. That you can trust your ex. Instead, you get accusations and great feelings that are thrown back at you.
You want to put your arms around your child and let them know how much they missed you.
Instead? You get misunderstandings. Tension. Anger.
Before you know it, you have both blew up.
Doors slam shut. Hard words are said.
And unless you decide to break the cycle, resume and resentment build up.
And the only thing you knew you wanted to avoid is starting to happen: the creeping suspicion that your child is taking sides is becoming a reality.
Want more? Here are 12 books for children about divorce
There has to be a better way, and there is. What is great is that it is easy to implement and how gold works.
It melts tension and negativityand it hits your child right where it is.
And it forms a really strong foundation for the relationship you share, regardless of the challenges you face.
What is this tool?
It's called special time.
Distance and change cause an interruption and they are underlying reason behind why your child returns home grumpy, defiant, or restless.
Special Time closes this gap.
It is a easy way to play where your child takes the lead. And this one simple action you set up is for restoring and reconnecting.
Here's how to get started.
Before your child comes home, you should expect your child's transition home to be bumpy. It is natural, and you can keep room for your child to have these feelings.
When your child enters the door, take a second to adjust. Be available.
Don't say much, but don't get distracted or involved in busy work.
If you want to vent, listen. Stay away from everyone "Dad says / Mom says" Arguments, but give your child room to show how they feel.
If they cry, scream, or have tantrums, give them time to skip those feelings.
At these moments, you don't have to say much at all, and your child will notice your supportive presence. Simple phrases like "I see this is hard for you" or "I'm sorry it was a hard time" work well.
If your child is sedentary, offer a special time.
Say, "Let's do whatever you want for the next 5 minutes."
Set your phone, egg timer or kitchen clock and follow your child what they want to do for that time.
Special Time works there Your child's brain can feel the close, positive attention They pour in, so don't let any distractions happen for the entire 5 minutes.
Try your best not to steer the piece your child chooses. That means:
Warning! It can be very hard at the start because, as parents, we're so used to controlling things - but over time it gets easier.
If you want to control the special time, notice the feeling and then release it. Or after hearing instructions, breathe in and then promise not to do so for the rest of the time.
Take care of yourself, but know that a unique relationship of trust will develop between you and your child over time if you can let go of control.
The short answer is no. They still have two different worlds to navigate, they still have feelings for the changes that will be absolutely obvious in two different households, and they will still feel the strain of it and no doubt have things to say about it.
But this five-minute act, which is spent together, creates a safe space that offers comfort and gives you room to show compassion for everything you experience in these transitional times.
Mother and co-parents Melanie Atkins offered her 6-year-old daughter special time when she came back from her father's house.
"She often struggles with the transitions that both go and come back," says Melanie. "When she comes back, she's full of attitude," said Daddy, "I can stay up on my tablet all night." It's not fair that I can't play on my tablet here. "
“I listen a bit and then go to the special time shortly after their home. It was great for the connection and it helps me to go back to the love zone with her, ”she says.
Special Time lets them know that you are there for them and happy to be back in their company. And that makes the return much sweeter.
Get 10 ways to connect with your child every day
It can be interesting to see how children use Special Time. Sometimes you may notice that your child uses the special time to work on certain issues related to the transition. This could include:
Melanie remembers her daughter asking for an imaginary game in which she asked Melanie to be a dog and then gave orders. "I followed her in everything! She asked me, "Sit down, lie down, don't do that, stay here," says Melanie.
"It was clear that she was working to feel powerless and that her life felt full of limits and rules," she says.
This tool is not a one-way relationship fixer. It gives you a moment to really tune in to your child.
"The other day my daughter moaned about the rules in our house and the fact that I limited her time to screens," says Melanie.
She founded Special Time shortly afterwards.
“Special times always make a big difference in how I feel. It enables me to be more compassionate with her through these transitions and to completely change the dynamic after only 5 minutes of this healing time together, ”she says.
Read more about how mindful play helps you and your child - and get a free checklist for special times
Another thing you might see is a big surprise during or at the end of the special time. While this may sound like the opposite of a happy return home, it's a way to get the peace and connection you want.
This happens because your child feels safe enough in your attention to reveal some of the larger fears and feelings he has gathered. Once released, they can go into a state of greater satisfaction and calm.
The rest of your day will likely unfold with less drama and less screaming.
Special Time works no matter how much time you have. Five minutes is a good place to start, but if you can get 10 minutes without distraction and focus on your child, go ahead. The more time you can give, the more connection your child will make. And you will see how they open up and react better to the things you ask them to do later.
It is less effective to promise a longer special time. So if you know you can't deliver, don't do it. It is better to spend less time with a higher focus on your child and their game.
When you start the special time, many parents who are parents together notice an immediate survey. You are children who help more without being asked, are more generous, and you will laugh together and have more patience for each other.
And it's not a one-hit miracle. The more you can plan in the special time, the more secure your relationship feels. They have regular check-in moments and are simply in each other's company. For your child, this means that you regularly invest time in it.
What could feel better for a child when it is subject to change and uncertainty?
Indeed, Special Time can be such a relationship recovery tool that many children ask when they feel insecure or insecure.
What to do if your child says they don't want a special time? Read this.
You can also try to use the special time if you expect changes, e.g. B. shortly before your child leaves for his visit.
One of the biggest questions parents have when we get separated or divorced is how we can protect our children.
Special Time is an amazing, confidence-building tool that you can use.
A way to reach them, anchor them and let them know that they are still loved no matter what.
In return, your children are happier, less stressed and spare you.
The next time your child comes home from your ex and feels grumpy, emotional, or full of attitude, try Special Time and let us know how to do it.
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