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Visitation Do's and Don'ts
Authors: Nithyakala Karuppaswamy with Judith A. Myers-Walls, Ph.D., CFLE

As a childcare provider, you may sometimes see children’s behavior getting worse after visiting a noncustodial parent or living with a parent who has joint custody. Visitations can be stressful for the children. When they visit a parent, their schedules are altered. Visitation also may mean that they need to sleep in a different bed, eat at a different table, and play with different toys and different friends. For example, for two days a week they may be living in Dad’s home, then during weekdays living with Mom. Children may respond to this stress by showing problem behavior following visitation. As a childcare provider, if you consistently see children showing problem behaviors following visitation, it is important to mention this to the parents.

For both parents and children, visitation is important to keep a sense of family connection. But in the early stages of adjusting to divorce, it is often a source of conflict. When the divorce is new, parents and children may be confused about how to handle visitation. Parents need to learn how to make visitations a regular event of their life. They need to find ways to help the child adjust smoothly. You can share information with parents that would help them with guidelines on the do's and don’ts of visitation.

As a provider, you need to have some information about visitation arrangements. You need to know when the child will go home with one parent or the other parent. It would be helpful to get a calendar from the parents so that you would know whom to call and whom to expect to pick up the child. You also can help the child adjust by telling her who will pick her up each day. Be careful not to get caught in the middle. A parent may try to pick up the child when it is not her turn. Make sure you know what your responsibility is by talking with both parents ahead of time.

It is possible that children will go to different childcare settings when they are with the two parents. This may happen especially if children go to one parent during the summer and the other parent during the school year. You might want to offer to be in touch with the other childcare provider. Or you could send a note to the other provider that explains what works best with this child or what the child has been doing. This is not necessary, but it might be helpful. You can help keep the child’s world consistent.


Go to:  • Does the child need counseling?
           • Resources


For more information, contact Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE at jmyerswa@purdue.edu

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