Son, 6, gets ‘ramped up’ af­ter vis­its with his fa­ther

FAM­ILY LIFE

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - GARY DIRENFELD Have a parenting or re­la­tion­ship ques­tion? Send it in a brief email to ques­tion@your­so­cial­worker.com. Due to the vol­ume of mail, not all ques­tions will re­ceive a re­ply.

Q: My son is 6 and he sees his fa­ther ev­ery other week­end.

When­ever he re­turns from see­ing his fa­ther, his be­hav­iour is all over the place and it can take at least a day for him to set­tle down.

How do I get his fa­ther to not ramp him up dur­ing vis­its?

A: The only thing known for sure is that when the lad re­turns from his al­ter­nate week­end visit with his fa­ther, it takes a while for his be­hav­iour to set­tle.

It may be as you sug­gest that his fa­ther is ramp­ing up his be­hav­iour — or there can be other rea­sons to ac­count for the chal­lenge of set­tling in.

In the life of a six-year-old, two weeks be­tween see­ing a par­ent can feel like a life­time. Your son may miss his fa­ther and be up­set on his re­turn home, re­al­iz­ing it will be a long while be­fore see­ing him again. The so­lu­tion is not less time, nor is it blam­ing a par­ent. Rather, it’s look­ing at how parenting time is struc­tured with the aim of adding more of it be­tween week­ends.

If, as you be­lieve, the is­sue is the fa­ther ramp­ing up the child, it may be that with the two-week gap the fa­ther is try­ing to get in as much fun time as pos­si­ble. Again, dis­cussing these mat­ters and look­ing at the im­pact of the parenting sched­ule may help.

If the fa­ther agrees that he is ramp­ing up your son’s be­hav­iour, you and he can dis­cuss a quiet ac­tiv­ity that could take place prior to the boy’s re­turn home.

Lastly, and re­gard­less of the rea­son be­hind it, you can ad­dress your son’s be­hav­iour by help­ing him to re­ori­ent to your home.

Af­ter your son en­ters the home and his fa­ther has left, take him aside and ask him where he is. This will be a puz­zling ques­tion, but your son will likely say, “At home.”

Then ask him how you ex­pect him to be­have. Again, he may be puz­zled by the ques­tion at first, but will likely re­ply with some­thing like “Nicely.”

All you have to do then is thank him for re­mem­ber­ing.

And the next time he seems to get ramped up, just re­mind him of where he is.

This re­ori­en­ta­tion may help him to set­tle in faster.

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