Working Through Conflict and Difficulty: Parents frequently tell us that they have trouble controlling their children’s conduct after they’ve returned from their other parent’s house. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this behavior, and even easier to overreact and take your aggravation out on your child, if you and your ex-partner don’t get along or have trouble communicating without fighting. Instead, concentrate on creating consistent and equitable parenting habits in your family. Plan a strategy for when your child returns to your house and parenting zone, so you can deal with the situation in a more acceptable and emotionally healthy way.
Tips for Managing Your Children’s Re-Entry:
• Make sure your children’s behavior is governed by clear, consistent guidelines. When you’re anxious or overwhelmed, it’s extremely important to remind yourself to follow these guidelines. Instead of responding to small things, speak calmly and specifically to your children about the minutiae of daily living.
When the kids are in your house, follow these rules every day and every evening so they know what to expect. There should be a set schedule for being inside, doing homework, playing before bedtime, bathing, and going to bed. Expect them to test you, especially if they’ve been gone for a while, but stick to your limits and clarify your expectations as needed.
• Remain firm in your decisions, no matter how weary or emotionally exhausted you are. It’s critical that your kids realize that they can’t weary you and then ignore your demands or take advantage of your emotional vulnerability. Instead, reaffirm the rules and stick to them, even if it’s emotionally draining and challenging.
• Pay special attention to positive behavior. Stickers, charts, and extra pocket money are all great ways to show your kids that their good behavior is valued. A simple ‘Thank You’ might also be a nice way to show your appreciation for their efforts. If you promise a prize, make sure you follow through.
• Make sure that poor behavior has consequences. The most effective legal consequences are usually little, brief, and immediate. When feasible, apply the consequence directly to the circumstance. If you don’t take a bath when you’re asked, it’s possible that there won’t be any toys or bubbles in the tub. If you don’t turn off the television when asked, you might not be able to watch it the next evening. Legal repercussions that are naturally tied to the offense are more likely to be effective.
To combat improper legal activity, act promptly. If you wait too long, the child may forget about the infraction entirely, or you may become enraged and overreact, resulting in a punishment that is far too harsh for the misbehavior.