Working Through Conflict and Difficulty: |
Parents frequently mention to our agency that they have difficulties managing their children's behavior after they've returned from their other parents' home. If you and your ex-partner aren't on speaking terms or have difficulty talking without fighting, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by this behavior, and even easier to overreact and take your frustration out on your child. Instead, focus on building firm and fair parenting routines for your home. Plan out a strategy for when your child is re-entering your home and your parenting territory, so you can manage this difficult time in a more appropriate and emotionally healthy manner.
Tips for Managing Your Children's Re-Entry To Your Home:
• Set clear, fair rules for your children's behavior that apply all the time. Be especially careful to remind yourself to enforce these rules when you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Speak calmly and specifically to your children about the details of daily life, instead of overreacting to little things.
• Apply these rules consistently every day and evening when the children are in your home, so that they know what to expect. There should be a specific time to be inside, to do homework, to play before bedtime, for bath time, and for bed. Expect them to challenge you, especially if they've been away but be consistent with your limits and explain your expectations repeatedly as necessary.
• No matter how tired or emotionally overwhelmed you are, stand by your decisions. It's important that your children understand that they can't exhaust you and then ignore your requests or take advantage of emotional weakness. Instead, reinforce the rules and remain consistent, even when it's emotionally draining and difficult for you.
• Give extra attention to good behavior. Rewards, such as stickers, charts, or extra pocket-money, go a long way towards showing your children that their behavior is appreciated. A simple 'Thank You' is also a good way to appreciate their effort. If you promise a reward, be sure to fulfill your promise.
• Enforce the consequences for negative behavior. Small, brief, and immediate legal consequences are typically the most effective. Apply the consequence directly to the situation whenever possible. Not taking a bath when asked may mean no toys or bubbles in the bath. Not turning off the television when asked may mean no television the following evening. Legal Consequences that are naturally related to the offense tend to work well.
• Act quickly to combat bad legal misbehavior. If you delay, the child may have forgotten the offense entirely, or you may be angry and overreact and end up setting a consequence that is too severe for the misbehavior.
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