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Don't forget important routines when dealing with child custody

Couples in the Miami, Florida, area who are dealing with divorce may also be considering child custody arrangements. A post-divorce parenting plan can be complex, but should consider the best interests of the child or children as well as the needs of the parents. According to a study that appeared in the Journal of Development and Behavioral Pediatrics, some routines positively impact emotional and social health in kids.

Researchers used measures of social-emotional health that were related to children's relationship abilities. Specifically, researchers looked at the ability to empathize, understand emotions and show self-control. Social interactions studied included interaction between kids as well as interaction between kids and adults.

According to researchers, certain types of routines positively impacted social-emotional health, or SEH. Those routines included eating dinner as a family unit, telling stories, singing, reading and playing. Routines best impacted SEH when parents and children did the activities together.

Children who didn't participate in such routines tended to have more problems problem solving once they entered school. Kids with the routines better adapted to new environments, including school, say researchers. Social acceptance and attention spans were also increased for kids with routines.

A divorce necessitates big changes in a family unit, but it doesn't have to cause a termination of all routines. Routines provide a sense of security and structure for young kids, making them feel safe and confident. Even in the midst of a divorce, parents can still provide an environment with routine and can work to set up new routines that work with child custody arrangements.

Consider routines when negotiating or setting custody arrangements. Try to create parenting plans that allow children to develop quality routines with both parents, and avoid constant changes to plans in the future.

Source: Wicked Local Rockland, "How routines for kids boost social and emotional health" Lois M. Collins, Mar. 18, 2014

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