Turning a move into an adventure can help your children cope. Although relocating can be one of life's challenges, it is also an adventure. By guiding your child through this experience with knowledge and patience, the transition can be a piece of cake!
The home you are moving from may be the only one your child has ever known. There's a sense of familiarity there, not only with the house, but everything around it. The neighborhood friends, parks, and schools will soon no longer exist for them. That's why moving can be especially troubling for children. But if parents understand what their child's concerns and needs are, a lot of distress can be avoided.
What are your kids concerned about?
Preschool children tend to worry about being left behind or separated from their parents. Kids aged 6 to 12 can be concerned with how their daily routines will be affected. Teenagers are concerned primarily with fitting in and having their social life disrupted.
Ideas for easing their concerns include: Communicate with your child about what the new house will be like. Take them on a visit of the new home and neighborhood, but if you can't, take lots of pictures or videotape it to make them feel more comfortable with their future surroundings.
Get information on the schools and childcare available in your area. If you can, visit the school with your child and meet some of the teachers.
Try to get your child involved in the moving process. Have them pack some of their own special belongings, and decorate the box with stickers and markers. Be sure to keep this box close at hand during the move.
Make plans together on how to decorate their new room. You may want to leave their surroundings the same, but this could also be a great time for change. Maybe let them pick a color of paint for their new room or a new bed set. Ask your child what some of the favorite things are and have them present at the new house.
Most kids will have lots of questions: Answer them in a positive way and try to understand their fears. Focus on things for them to look forward to, like a first snow or their own room! Starting over in a new place is never easy. If possible, find pen pals in the new location before you move so your child will have someone to interact with and learn about the area. Contacting the local Chamber of Commerce for pamphlets on the area is another great way for your family to sit down together and visualize what the new town will be like.
Leaving friends behind may be one of the harder things your child has to do. Throw a going away party with their friends and take lots of pictures to make a nice scrapbook for them to look back on. Give them a stationary set or pre-stamped cards so they can stay in touch with friends, too. Just think, when you relieve the stress your children are feeling, you reduce your own stress and are able to focus more on other aspects of your move!