Many parents may wonder about the best parenting arrangements for the 0-4 year age group. Whatever a child’s age is, they deserve all the love, care, and support that they need in order to grow properly. However, there are no one-size-fits-all parenting arrangements for toddlers. This is because a child custody arrangement will depend on each family’s individual circumstances. Generally, toddlers will need the following:
1. Consistent and responsive caregiving: Toddlers benefit from having consistent, predictable care from familiar, responsive caretakers. This can be provided by parents, grandparents, or other trusted caregivers.
2. Emotional warmth and security: Younger children need to feel emotionally secure and loved in order to thrive. This can be achieved through warm and responsive caregiving, as well as through routines that provide a sense of structure and stability.
3. Opportunities for play and exploration: Children in this age group are naturally curious and love to explore the world around them. Parents can support their development by providing them with opportunities for play and exploration in safe, age-appropriate environments.
4. Encouragement of language development: Language is a critical aspect of development for children in this age group. Parents can support their toddler’s language development by speaking to them regularly, reading to them, and encouraging them to express themselves through words and gestures.
5. Positive discipline strategies: This may include redirection, positive reinforcement, and setting clear boundaries. All of these factors are effective for parenting arrangements for the 0-4 year age group who can learn appropriate behaviours and develop self-regulation skills.
Attachment Among Toddlers
Attachment is the emotional bond that forms between a child and their primary caregiver, typically their parent or parents. It is a complex and dynamic process that begins in the first few months of life and continues to develop over the course of childhood. Children are particularly sensitive to experiences with their primary caregivers.
They are also actively developing their sense of security and trust in the world around them. As they interact with their primary caregiver, they form an attachment that serves as a foundation for their emotional and social development. A secure attachment is characterised by emotional security and trust, as well as a positive relationship with the primary caregiver.
A young child with secure attachments tend to have better outcomes in areas such as emotional regulation, self-esteem, and social relationships. On the other hand, disruptions to the attachment process can negatively impact a child’s development. For instance, there were frequent changes in caregivers or the children who experienced neglect or abuse from the other parent.
Therefore, it is important for parents and caregivers to provide a supportive and responsive environment that encourages secure attachment. This is especially the case when parents make parenting arrangements for the 0-4 year age group.
What Are Parenting Arrangements?
Parenting arrangements are a type of plan that parents or a court can make for childcare for divorced or separated parents. The Family Law Act 1975 governs parenting arrangements in Australia. The Family Law Act sets out the legal framework for determining what is in the best interests of the child when parents separate. Parenting or custody arrangements may include:
- Visitation schedules
- Holiday schedules (Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, Summer breaks, etc.)
- Special dates such as the child’s birthday or the parent’s birthday
- Travel and vacation provisions
- Terms and conditions for extended family members
- Medical decisions
- Educational decisions
- Provisons if a family court review is necessary or not
Visitation schedules in parenting arrangements for the 0-4 year age group may favour the mother for breastfeeding purposes. This means that fathers may not be able to see their children very often if the children are aged between 0-4 years. However, they still be able to visit regularly if the father:
- Doesn’t have a history of domestic violence or abuse; or
- Is the primary caregiver
- Is the parent with whom the child has a primary attachment with
Note: A family court may draft parenting orders if both parents cannot reach an agreement regarding parenting arrangements. A court may issue a parenting order based on an agreement between the parties (consent oder) or after a hearing or trial.
Parental responsibility is an important aspect of parenting arrangements for the 0-4 year age group or older children. It defines the legal rights, duties, powers, and responsibilities that parents have in relation to their children.
In general, parental responsibility includes making decisions about the child’s upbringing, welfare, education, health, and other important matters. There are two types of parental responsibility:
1. Equal shared parental responsibility – Courts urge most parents to have equal shared parental responsibility as much as possible since this is in the child’s best interests. Equal shared parental responsibility also defines parents’ ability to provide care, love, and support to their children regardless of divorce or separation.
2. Sole parental responsibility – This type of responsibility is given to only one parent because of certain circumstances. Such circumstances may include the non-resident parent having a history of drug abuse, domestic violence/abuse, or unwillingness to fulfil parental responsibilities or joint custody decisions.
Parenting Arrangements for the 0-4 Year Age Group: Example
Let’s use an example of the best parenting arrangements for the 0-4 year age group. Billy and Myrtle are a couple that divorced after a 4-year marriage. The divorce happened after Myrtle gave birth to their first daughter, Layla. Billy told Myrtle that even though they are divorced, he is willing to make parenting and child support arrangements for Layla.
Myrtle listed in their parenting plan that Billy will have to visit them in their house for the first year. This one-year timeframe considers Layla’s breastfeeding period. Fortunately, Billy complied with the arrangement.
However, Billy added that he should be able to take Layla out after the breastfeeding period ends. They both agreed that, after one year of breastfeeding, the child custody schedule will be:
(Billy will pickup Layla at 4:30 pm after school)
(Billy will take Layla to Myrtle at 7:30 pm)
Both Myrtle and Billy also made provisions for Layla’s healthcare decisions such as monthly doctor visits. Myrtle will also bring Layla to Billy’s house on Father’s Day, and Billy will do the same on Mother’s Day. Both Myrtle and Billy will contact a family lawyer should they have disputes about handovers. But who can they reach out to if such disputes arise?
JB Solicitors’ Legal Advice
We understand what is in the child’s best interests and how to enforce them at family courts. We have mediation and arbitration services for parents who want to amicably resolve their parenting arrangement disputes.
Contact us today if you need help making parenting arrangements for the 0-4 year age group.