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Helping infants and young children cope with custody exchanges

With another weekend right around the corner, many Omaha parents are preparing to exchange custody of their children. If you are one of these parents, this experience can make you feel stressed and frustrated, no matter how many times you have gone through this transition process.

As difficult as it can be for adults to give or take custody of a child, it can be just as upsetting, if not more, for the children involved. Even if your child is an infant or toddler and can't verbalize feelings, he or she can be significantly affected by custody exchanges. Thankfully, there are steps parents can take to make the transition easier on their kids and themselves.

Controlling your emotions in the time surrounding an exchange can be extremely challenging for you but beneficial for your kids. If you are angry, yelling or otherwise upset, your kids can pick up on that. Instead, focus on staying calm and making sure your child has a smooth, peaceful experience.

Preparing for the exchange can also make the transition easier. You and the other parent can do this by setting rules for when and where exchanges will occur in a parenting plan. Immediately before the exchange, you can make sure your child has everything he or she needs, including diapers, formula and items like stuffed animals or blankets the child likes.

Despite these measures, a child can still be upset to leave one parent, even if it's only for a short period of time. As noted in this Huffington Post article, young children can struggle with some degree of separation anxiety, so it can be important for parents to do what they can to alleviate this. After receiving custody, you can try to distract your child with games, snacks or other small, fun treats to help them adjust to the new situation.

Young children and babies can be especially vulnerable to contentious situations like custody exchanges. Because of this, it can be crucial for parents to do what they can to ease the transition between homes. This starts with creating a comprehensive parenting plan and continues with abiding by this agreement and taking action in the event of violations. At any time, it can be wise to discuss your options and rights regarding custody with your attorney.

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