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Sharing Custody of Your Toddler

by T Akery | November 18th, 2011 | Elementary, Infants/Toddlers

Break-ups happen. Sometimes, your toddler gets caught up in the middle of the chaos. For a toddler, the hardest thing to understand is that their world is changing. Sharing custody is not something that they will understand very well. While they will eventually adapt, this particular transition period can be very tough on them. It may mean more tantrums, more tears, and more restlessness due to the stress caused by a changing world.

First and foremost, do not take out your emotions about the break-up out on your toddler. It can be tempting to do so since they often wind up as a convenient emotional target. Add in the whining, crying, screaming, and general fussiness, and you can quickly reach your breaking point. When you do find yourself being overwhelmed, step back. Get a temporary babysitter, while you take the time to deal with your emotions. It will better for the both of you.

Second, don’t ever use your toddler as a pawn for revenge on the other person. It is your toddler that gets hurt the most in this type of power play. In fact, it can cause your toddler to have more problems because they sense that things aren’t quite right even if they don’t fully understand it. What you say does matter, and your toddler needs to know that they are important and that you love them no matter what.

It helps to establish a regular routine on drop-offs and pick-ups. Avoid potential fighting by picking a neutral area such as a park or a kid-friendly restaurant. If you really can’t be around the other person without an argument happening, get a neutral party to conduct picking up your toddler. Try to keep the transition as smooth as possible to minimize the drama.

Keep a few familiar items at both homes so that they will have something that they can grab onto during times of stress. If you can’t have two of an item, like a familiar blanket, be sure to include it in packing their bags. You may also want to remind the other person to include it when it is time to pick them up.

Try to be consistent between households on big items such as potty training. Discuss the approach each person is taking. Try very hard not to turn these types of issues into an argument. You are discussing your toddler and not your personal issues. These types of discussions are going to require some compromise and a ton of self-control.

At this time, your toddler is going to need a lot more attention. Be prepared to deal with the additional expressions of stress conveyed by your toddler. The hardest part will be keeping your personal issues with the other person completely separate from the care your toddler requires.

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