Changing between Daddy and Mommy time is like travelling between parallel universes for a young child. Young kids between 3-7 years of age simply do not understand how they must make the transition between mom and dad’s home. A child should not have to figure out a strategy to survive the process. Parent’s need to to work together and have a strategy to help young kids handle exchanges.
High conflict and uneducated parent’s make presumptions that the child’s stress is indicative of the fact the child does not wish to see the parent who has arrived to pick them up. Parents inability to understand how to meet the needs of the traumatized child only makes the matter WORSE. These “failed” exchanges usually result in strong emotional reactions from the child. Note to parents, come up with a better plan.
We suggest that children be picked up and drop off from a neutral location such as a day care where the kids do not have to be in between their mom and dad. If you have to exchange the child between yourself and your ex give the child at least 15 minutes with both parents so they can feel reassured and safe. The best advice is to get your child excited about seeing Mom or Dad, which might just lead to your child running out the door to go on their next adventure. Think kid first, parent second.