Published: January 31, 2020
Let’s face it, moving can have a harsh impact on children.
The disruption of their lives, exiting a familiar home for a new one in perhaps a different locale, leaving friends, changing schools – these are powerful forces that buffet kids when it is time to move.
The reasons for moving vary – family issues, changes in employment, military reassignment – but they generally are a result of the lives of the adults. Children may not handle this well because they are not responsible for the upheaval and often aren’t well-informed about the reasons and none of it was their idea.
Let’s strive to make this as painless as possible, knowing full well that not every day in the moving process will be without some distress or tears. We have some ideas to pass along that might help you smooth the path.
First, stay positive. Stoke the idea that the move is going to be exciting and challenging for all. Acknowledge that change may not always be easy, but stress that change is part of life and often brings new, good things. Are you moving closer to the beach? To skiing? Talk about that with the kids. Remember, they’re already thinking about what they’re losing – besties, their school – so remind them of what is being gained.
Second, be open to hearing those negatives. Your child or children may need to vent a bit, and you need to hear that. Understanding their fears will go a long way toward diminishing them and opening them up to what lies ahead.
Also, keep the children involved in the process of the move. They can sort their clothing and toys and decide what they want to keep and what they would like to discard or donate. They can help pack suitcases, move light boxes, help clean both the old house and the new one. Let them feel a bit of ownership of this move. Again, stress the sense of adventure and not the uncertainty.
If the move is not too far, take the kids to visit the new home, neighborhood and school. Give them a taste of where they will be living and the new place’s many attributes. Realtors often offer video tours of homes, and your children can view the new house and get a sense of its layout and their rooms in that way as well.
Please know that teenagers can take a move with as little stability as a toddler – and maybe less. They’re vulnerable at this point in their lives to acceptance and rejection, and making new friends at a new school in a new neighborhood can seem overwhelming. Keep your ears open – listen when they express their concerns or fears. Let them know you share many of the same feelings. Try to keep their routines relatively similar once the move has taken place and be patient with their struggles (if there are any) to adapt.