Considering a Child’s Developmental Needs When Determining Parenting Time

Considering the developmental needs of the children is vital when determining parenting time. When parents separate or divorce, parenting time schedules are intended to provide a suitable solution to meet the child’s health care, nutritional, educational, social, and emotional needs. A child custody attorney, mediator, or counselor can help parents determine the best parenting time solutions to ensure they are appropriate for their child’s developmental level.

The Role Parenting time Plays in a Child’s Development

A child’s development is significantly impacted by his or her relationship with each parent. Studies reveal that infants and young children who experience positive relationships with bother parents and live in environments where their emotional, social, health, and educational needs are met are more likely to develop better social skills and higher self-esteem than children who are deprived of these experiences.

Developmental Monitoring

As children move from one developmental stage to the next, their needs often change significantly. For example, the needs of an infant are not the same as those of an older child or teenager. Parenting time plans need to be adjusted to match their changing needs.

Parents, guardians, and caregivers are best positioned for monitoring a child’s changes and developmental milestones. For infants, minor actions such as waving, smiling, reaching for a toy, or lack of them may indicate a healthy or unhealthy growth process. For older children and teens, a lack of age-appropriate social skills, withdrawal from friends or activities, problems in school, or acting out may indicate the need to make a change in a parenting plan.

An effective, child-focused parenting plan provides a variety of benefits.

Promotes A Child’s Sense Of Security

A child needs to develop a sense of safety where he or she can comfortably seek reassurance and comfort from both parents. An appropriate parenting plan that includes positive interaction with both parents promotes a child’s ability to develop trust in relationships.

Supports Behavioral Adjustment

Planned parenting time is essential for behavioral adjustment. Implementation of behavior change routines may be necessary if a child demonstrates signs of distress after divorce.

Provides Stability and Reduces Conflicts

An effective, child-focused parenting plan puts the needs of the children first, helps ensure routines are established, and may reduce the amount of time parents must interact with each other.

Kimberly Surratt served for eight years on the executive council and has been the vice chair and then chair of the State Bar of Nevada Family Law Section. In addition, she is the President-Elect of the Nevada Justice Association and the chair of the domestic lobbying committee. She has lobbied with the Nevada Justice Association since 2004.

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