Co-parenting isn’t the same for every child, primarily because of their needs at each stage of development. In this second blog post of our series about co-parenting children at different ages, we’ll take a closer look at the ways this arrangement has to change for toddlers. What do you need to know about co-parenting a young child with your former partner? Here are a few thoughts to get you started.
Have Regular and Predictable Schedules
While babies will often control their feeding and napping routines, toddlers thrive in a situation where their schedules are predictable with clear expectations. Along with a routine for mealtime, bedtime, and play, you can incorporate custody changes. This way, they can begin to anticipate when they will be with the other parent. It is up to both parents to work together to create this consistency, because if they don’t (and reasonable compromise may be necessary) a court certainly will. Georgia courts tend to go to one extreme or the other and that is either they will restrict the non-primary parent’s time with a developing toddler more than many deem reasonable, or they will be more expansive with that parent’s time than many deem reasonable. Instead of taking a chance with the court, if at all possible to reasonably work things out with the other parent, that will often produce the best result without taking the risk and letting the judge sort out the situation for you. Sometimes you have no choice but to have the court decide, but do try in good-faith to reasonable work things out before it comes to that.
Manage Your Child’s Emotions
Even though young children are best with predictable routines, that doesn’t mean they won’t act out sometimes. Toddlers are just beginning to understand the consequences of their emotions, and if they are frustrated, they can’t communicate it in a rational or healthy way. It’s important to talk to them about what’s going on in a language they understand.
Plan for High Energy Activities
Toddlers are notorious for exploring boundaries. As soon as they’re on their feet, they’re finding new ways to interact with the world around them. Both parents should be fully prepared for high-energy activities when they have custody. Have plenty of interactive toys available in both locations.
Some activities perfect for toddlers include:
- Make a sensory bin with lots of textures, shapes, and sizes of materials.
- Make bath paint out of shaving cream and food coloring.
- Play “Mirror Mirror” where you copy your child’s expressions.
- Read a picture book together.
- Build a playhouse out of Amazon boxes.
- Go on a nature walk and point out sticks, bugs, flowers, and trees.
- Paint with water on the sidewalk.
Provide Emotional and Social Engagement
Social engagement is also crucial at this age. Both parents should be mindful of the need for social interaction for their toddler and similarly aged children. Having a network available to both parents that includes your child’s peers will be helpful to ensure that your toddler’s emotional and social needs are met.
Work with an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Before you make any agreements to co-parent your toddler, talk with an experienced family lawyer so you can be sure the arrangement is fair and equitable.
We are Georgia divorce and child custody attorneys. This is all we have done since 1995. We can help. If you need help or have any questions, we would be happy to speak with you via email, text, or phone. Check us out at www.shawlaw.com.
Shaw Law Firm, PC
(770) 594-8309 (phone or text)