Here are 12 tips parents can use to help children deal with moving.
Published: March 31, 2018
By: Denise Morrison Yearian
Moving can be a daunting experience for everyone, especially children. So how do parents navigate the journey and help children adjust to a new living situation? Here are 12 tips to help:
1. Talk it over. Once the decision to move has been made, find uninterrupted time to talk with your children. Keep in mind age and developmental level. Older children need more time to adjust to a move than younger ones.
2. Keep an open line of communication. Remind your children it is okay to ask questions. Acknowledge their concerns. Be patient with preschoolers who may have repeated questions. Be encouraging and empathetic. Share regrets about leaving but tell them what they have to look forward to. If communication time is limited due to schedules, make a “question jar” so children may write down concerns to be answered at a designated time.
3. Stay positive. Maintain a good attitude toward the move. Parents model attitudes and behaviors that children pick up on. Show healthy ways to handle the stress of the move. Display confidence. Keep a positive outlook. Present a united front with your spouse.
4. Be ready for older child opposition. Encourage older children who are opposed to the move and not want to leave. Listen and try to figure out exactly what is troubling them. See if there are alternative options – can the move be postponed until the end of the school year?
5. Watch for stress. Kids, like adults, can experience stress whenever there is a significant life change. This could include loss of sleep, loss of appetite, separation anxiety, withdrawal from family and/or friends, self-inflicted injury, hostility, etc. Be observant. Talk with your children and teach stress management techniques. Contact a professional if necessary.
6. Travel to the new locale. Prior to the move, take your children to see the house and other places of interest. Drive and walk around the community. Talk with neighbors. Visit the new school. If you cannot visit prior to the move, look online for information about the community and activities. Get a newspaper. Look for online virtual walkthroughs of your home. Remember, children will feel more secure with concrete images and information.
7. Take on old toys and clothes. Recognize that some old toys and certain items of clothing may have significant value and be difficult for your children to part with. If so, wait until after the move. Or make a deal with them: for every bag of toys or clothes given away, they get to purchase a specified number of new things.
8. Let them participate. If your children want to help with the move, it will give them a sense of ownership and let them feel a sense of control over their lives. Allow them to help pack boxes, make small decisions, plan how to decorate their new rooms, etc.
9. Say fitting goodbyes. Take pictures of old friends and familiar places. Create a photo album or collection of things. Make a video. Have a “goodbye” party with friends. Buy a t-shirt and ask your child’s friends to sign it. Buy something from a favorite store you frequent (a bakery, for example) to take with you as you move.
10. Keep in touch. Make phone calls, write letters, send email or texts and take advantage of options such as Face Time. Schedule play dates. Visit old friends and invite them to visit you.
11. Settlement priorities. Make setting up children’s rooms a priority. It gives them a sense of home, settlement and security. Maintain regular routines as much as possible. Get involved in activities as soon as you can.
12. Work through homesickness. Listen, support and encourage your children. Acknowledge sadness but remind them it will get better. Share your own sad feelings, but end on a positive note about the good things at your new home and community.
Denise Morrison Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and mother of three children and four grandchildren.