What’s the best way to prepare my child for an extended absence from me?

Prepare your child for extended absences in several ways. An extended absence for a very young child may be as short as a week. Here are some tips:

  • If going on a trip, show the child on a map where the child will be.
  • Talk about the weather where the child will be.
  • Plan together what to pack for the fun times the child will have while away.
  • Encourage your child to have a good time on the break from you and everyday routines.
  • Give your child a calendar and you both can mark off the days.
  • Ask your child to put drawings or funny stories into a special envelope to bring back home and share with you.
  • Send a fun note, text message, or email.
  • Tape record the child’s favorite bedtime story and send along.
  • Do not make the child feel guilty for going.
  • Schedule at least one time to call the other parent. Set an alarm and don’t forget.

Plan something special when your child returns. Children often fuss and cry when going back and forth between families. They want to reassure each of you that they love you and will miss you (and that you’ll take them back). It’s normal to be fussy during the exchange. Once the other parent is out of sight, most children will bounce back after a few minutes of quiet time.