Supervised Visitation: 20 Tips for Success

Supervised Visitation: 20 Tips for Success
By Jean McBride, M.S. LMFT

If you have been ordered into supervised visitation with your children, you may be
feeling a variety of emotions. Some parents feel punished about having to see their
children with a supervisor watching. It doesn’t feel normal or natural to them. Other
parents feel singled out and manipulated by the other parent. Still, others may think that
the supervised visitation is just a ploy used by the other parent to improve their court
case. The parent who is required to participate in supervised visits with children may
resent the entire process and subtly or not so subtly sabotage the visits.
Supervised visitation is based on two premises. The first is that research tells us children
do best when they have ongoing relationships with both of their parents. When this
relationship is interrupted because of a separation or divorce, children are placed in
jeopardy. And second, it is vital that children’s emotional and physical safety is always
guaranteed. Children are the innocent bystanders when adults divorce. They have no
control over the choices that their parents make.
If you and your children have been assigned to supervised visitation, it is up to you to
make it a positive experience. Prepare yourself that it is not the same as unsupervised
time. There are obvious limitations on your activities and the amount of time you may
spend together. This can be frustrating for adults and children. If you are feeling this
frustration, remind yourself how important it is for your children to have regular contact
with both parents. If supervised visits are the only way to maintain contact, learn to
welcome them and make the most of the time together.

Here are some tips to ensure successful visits for you and your children.

If you are the visiting parent:
1. Follow the schedule set up for your visits. Cancel only for the direst of
emergencies. Routine is all- important for children.
2. Be sure to arrive on time.
3. Spend the time focusing on your children. This is their time to enjoy being with
you. Clear your mind of other distractions and shower your children with your
4. Be prepared. Plan on talking and playing with your children. Bring games, toys,
books etc. that your children will enjoy. Be sure to check this out with the
supervisor ahead of time. Have a general plan in mind for how to spend the time,
but also be open to what your children may want to do.
5. Talk with your children about what you are doing. Give them general details
about your life just as you would do if you were in the same house. Ask questions
about their activities and show an interest in the things that matter to your
children. Please note – asking questions isn’t the same thing as grilling them for
information. Take their lead on this. If you ask a few questions and get no
response, move on.
6. Be scrupulous with your word. If you say you are going to do something, do it.
Be very careful to only make promises that you can keep.
7. Avoid talking about the divorce, the other parent, and Court. This is a time for you
and your children to share time together, build connections, and have fun. Keep
your conversations positive and light.
8. Make only positive or neutral comments about the other parent. Anything else
places your children in a terrible loyalty bind and has the potential of negatively
influencing your time together.
9. Remember to say those 3 powerful words – “I love you.”
10. Relax and enjoy yourself. Your relaxation will carry over to your children and
significantly contribute to the success of the visit.
As the other parent, you also play a role in the success of these visits for your children.

Here are some things you can do:
1. Follow the schedule for your children’s visits with the other parent. Only cancel
for emergencies.
2. Arrive on time.
3. Prepare your children for the visit. Mark the visitation days on a calendar. Help
gather toys and activities for the visit. Use what you know about your children’s
temperaments to help them transition to the visit. For example, allow enough time
to get ready so that they aren’t frantically rushing out the door. Provide downtime
after the visit rather than immediately going to another activity.
4. Be positive. Demonstrate through your words and actions that you want your
children to have this time with their other parent.
5. Avoid talking about the divorce, the other parent, and Court.
6. Do everything you can do to make sure that your children are not placed in the
middle of a conflict that may be ongoing between you and the other parent.
7. Make only positive or neutral comments about the other parent. Anything else
places your children in a terrible loyalty bind that they simply do not have the
psychological resources to handle.
8. If having your children spend time with the other parent is a problem for you,
don’t ignore your feelings. Talk with a therapist, a friend, your pastor or someone
who can be supportive and objective. It is never appropriate to share those
feelings with your children. Maintain good boundaries and keep adult issues
between adults.
9. When the visit is over, be a good listener. Remain positive and light. Let your
children set the pace of not only what they tell you about the visit, but when.
Children are extremely intuitive and they know when a parent is going to get
upset about something they say. Your job is to not get upset. Respond with what I
call listening noises like “oh, hmm, unhuh” or neutral comments like “That’s
great” or “Sounds like fun.” You get the idea. After a visit, your children
shouldn’t feel like the CIA is interrogating them.
10. Watch your non-verbal language. Your children are tuned in to everything you do.
Sighs, head shaking, clicking your tongue and comments muttered under the
breath all send a message to your children that you are not pleased. Learn to
control these non-verbal cues. Your children will benefit greatly.

Divorce Transitions, Inc. 217 W. Olive Fort Collins, CO 80521

Follow by Email