When it comes to sharing custody of your child, those times apart can be tough. While it may sound like time away from the kids would bring relief, it can sometimes bring anxiety. And if you think it’s tough on you, imagine how hard it can be on little children. In fact, you may begin to notice behavioral changes in your child before they leave. The good news is, you are not alone. In fact, joint custody separation anxiety is normal and can be quite common.

Joint Custody Separation Anxiety: How to Work Through It Together

When children begin splitting time between two parents, they may experience separation anxiety. In most cases, this takes place between a mother and the child, but it can apply to fathers as well. While the child loves both parents, they come to associate one parent, and one dwelling, as their home. For instance, with that parent they feel secure in their place and routine. In many cases, one parent receives the house in the divorce. And although the child splits time between both places— that house will always be home.

Expect Behavioral Changes

Before your kids leaves to stay with their other parent, you can expect behavior changes. Children thrive on security and consistency. So even this temporary change can really disrupt their world. Since they are dealing with this process, you can expect them to become more emotional. They may experience melt downs, or tantrums. More likely, they may ask not to go stay with the other parent. In addition, they may cry or express how sad they are while they are away.

How To Work Through The Hard Times

Speak To Your Ex

For several reasons, you need for your ex to be aware of the feelings your child is having. First, you need to speak to them without looking like you’re the favorite parent. If possible, you want your child to be there and feel free to open up about it. Next, discuss ways you can still see your child during times they are with your ex. Make sure they do not feel like you are encroaching on their time with the child.

Plan Ways To See Your Child

One great way to deal with joint custody separation anxiety is to plan a few ways to see your child while they stay with their other parent. For one thing, just knowing they will see you can help the child cope with leaving. Therefore, plan to have lunch with them at school. Or perhaps, attend a soccer practice that week.

Give Them A Journal

Another healthy way to deal with separation anxiety coming from joint custody is to give your child a journal. By doing this, encourage them to write what they are feeling when they are away from you. This could be their feelings or a message to you. Likewise, you can keep a journal while they are away too. Then, when they come back, share journals and messages to one another. If your child cannot read or write yet, simply have them draw pictures.

One thing to remember when dealing with joint custody separation anxiety is that it’s normal. But more importantly, recognize any anxiety you feel while your child is away from. Then, realize how your child must feel. While you have had many years to build skills to cope with these feelings, your child has not.