It may happen that your defiant child is not acting favourably towards the visitation situation. That is not something you can allow to remain too long like that. Your children did not ask for the divorce.
The fact that they can see the other parent only once in a while and have to miss the typical parent/child realtionship on a daily basis is bad enough. Your efforts as parents should be focussed on providing the children the best conditions to see and meet both parents.
If your children are showing defiant behaviour towards the visitation schedule, make some minor changes that will make your children feel better, explain the importance of visitation and then stick to your guns about following the schedule. Following 10 steps help you to disencourage defiant child visitation behaviour:
Even though you may not feel like it, you must remember that you are the parent and that and only you are in charge. Both of you have been ordered by the court to set up and follow a visitation schedule. If you do not follow the rules, you are in violation. The consequences will certainly not help to improve the situation.
Be sure you really understand why the defiant child or children do not want to go on visitation. Talk to the children and ask them to explain. It does not have to be a complex problem or even a real problem. Issues like not being able to sleep with their favorite blanket or toy can be enough to put the children off.
Even if you do not agree with the reasons the children may give for not wanting to take part in the visitation, still try and make any small, reasonable adjustment that will make the children feel more comfortable. Being heard and being recognised for their needs is sometimes already enough.
Consider any larger problems the defiant child brings up, such as disliking spending school nights away from the custodial home. Think about whether the child's concerns are valid and what can be done in response to them. Maybe it isn't a good idea to have visitation on school nights if it really is throwing the child off.
Allow the children to have phone or email contact with the other parent during the visitation. This helps to ease separation anxiety and brings the other parents closer.
Be clear to the children that both of you, as parents, love them very much and want to be part of the chidlren's lives. Visitation is an important way of sharing at least a small part of their lives.
It happens that the children pick up the feelings of the parents about the visitation topic. What if the custodial parent actually resents the visitation and wished it didn't have to happen. What if one of the parents is jealous when the children are with the other parent. It is your responsibility to encourage the children to go on visitation without feeling guilty. If you are the non-custodial parent, what can you notice about the feelings of the custodial parent? If there are blocking feelings, find a time to discuss these and try to find a way to deal with these feeling outside of the realm of the children.
It is common and normal if the children at one time resist visitation. It is just like they resist cleaning their rooms or turning off the TV. The resistance does not necessarily mean that there is something horrible happening during visitation. Just find a way to make your children observe the rules.
Always make sure that your children have their needed belongings with them on a visitation. Missing homework, stuffed animals or pajamas will not help the situation.
If school or sports activities are scheduled during visitation, the parent who has visitation will have to take the children to the activity. Be sure your children are not missing out on these activities to go on visitation. This can foster resentment.
Read more about defiant children in Defiant Teen.
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