What to do when children don't want to have contact

Sometimes, children can be reluctant to have contact. Especially if the family circumstances have been high conflict, or if the children and parents don’t know each other very well.

It’s important to encourage your child about contact. Contact is put in place with the children’s best interests in mind, to help make meaningful connections with their parents or carers. But to a child, it might not always seem that way. They might feel pressured, nervous, angry, out of control. It can make contact arrangements tricky to navigate.

We’re sharing some of our top tips for when children don’t want to have contact. Remember to communicate honestly, be positive, and always put the children first.

Talk to them about it

Encourage your child to talk about why they don’t want to have contact. Assure them that there’s no judgement. They won’t get into trouble. You just want to understand what they’re feeling so that you can help. This will make them feel listened to and valued as a member of the family. They’re not just told what to do without consideration, they’re respected and their feelings are taken seriously.

If they share their concerns about contact, respond kindly and without judgement. What might seem silly to you, won’t be to them.

At Starting Point, we want to be a safe place where open communication can happen between families. We do all we can to foster an open, trusting environment, so that families can express themselves freely, without fear of judgement.

Fill the other parent in

It’s important to keep both parents in the loop. Not only to minimise conflict, but also to save the resident parent from legal issues further down the line. If the non-resident parent feels like the resident parent is stopping contact, it can cause a real legal bind. Keeping communication open between the whole family will help to avoid misunderstandings.

A good contact centre always puts the children first. That means putting the parents’ conflict aside and doing what’s best for the children. At Starting Point, we can help families keep communication open in ways that they’re comfortable with, so that everyone gets the contact they need.

Be positive about contact

Your attitude towards contact may influence your child’s attitude. If you’re negative about the other parent, for example, that could discourage your child from wanting to see them. Being positive about contact will give your child reassurance that it’s in their best interest. If you show your reluctance, they might wonder why they’re being ‘forced’ to go. Having those mixed messages might confuse them and make them want to stop contact altogether.

Assure your child the importance of contact and how it will help them. But also let them know that you want them to enjoy it. It’s not a chore, it’s a chance to spend time with family.

Work together

The more a family can work together, the more seamless the experience will be. We understand it may not always be possible, but if it is, working together to stay organised and positive will have a great impact on the way your child views their contact.

If there is tension or high conflict between parents, however, that may not be an option. Seeking professional support can help minimise conflict during interactions between parents. It can also give your family practical tools to navigate the contact in a meaningful and positive way.

A contact centre will work with the family as well to ensure that contact is as smooth as possible. Whether it’s signposting to family therapists, mediators, or simply demonstrating a position of non-judgement, Starting Point is here to be a part of the journey with you.

Starting Point is here to help. We’re with you, every step of the way. For more advice and support, get in touch with us today. This is the starting point to something good.