Helping Your Children Cope With the Move
School is out and families across America are preparing to pack up and move. Whether you are moving across the street or across the country moving can be especially stressful for children. Younger kids often become confused when their daily routine is disrupted, while teenagers fear the loss of old friends and dread the thought of making new ones in a strange school or neighborhood. There are steps you can take to help alleviate their fears and get them involved at the same time.
It’s important for parents to provide children with as much information as possible and allow them to participate in discussions. This will give them a sense of control and help relieve anxiety. Talk about all of the positive aspects of their new home, school and neighborhood and explain that the new home, if given a fair chance, can be even better than the old one.
For younger children, the move can be made into an exciting adventure. Suggest that your child to pack his or her own things, make sure to leave favorite toys out until the very end. You might even practice moving day ahead of time. A conversation could go something like this: “On Friday when we wake up, there will be a big truck in the driveway. We will have breakfast, then go into your room and show the movers which things to put on the truck. Then, after the truck is filled we will get in our car and go to our new home. Then we will tell the movers exactly where to put your things in your new room…” If your children are really young, consider hiring a baby-sitter while you pack, and also on moving day. But otherwise resist the temptation to send children away during the move. Participating will help them understand what’s happening and adjust more easily to their new surroundings.
Make it Fun
For older children, a move that involves leaving friends, sports teams and favorite hangouts behind can be hard. Help them say good-bye to friends by having a good-bye party. Emphasize how easy it is to keep in touch through e-mail, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, video chats and the telephone. Technology has made the world a smaller place and those moving can really benefit from these new tools.
Get Back to “Normal”
Once you are unpacked and settled in your new home, get back to familiar routines as soon as possible. If it is a tradition in your family to eat pizza on Friday nights or watch cartoons on Saturday mornings, continue the practice as soon as possible in your new home. Normal looks like different things to different people. What’s important is that your family embraces all of the good from the new surroundings while keeping up with the things that make your family unique.
After the Move
Finally, don’t take it personally if your kids blame you for the difficulty of a move. No matter how well you prepare them, expect them to be a little upset and give them some time to grieve. They will almost certainly grow to love their new home just as much as the old one.