Moving is no easy feat for adults with the responsibilities of packing and making countless additional arrangements. But moving can be especially hard on kids, who rely on stability throughout childhood and can experience anxiety from the loss of a sense of belonging and all the new places and people. Both older and younger children will struggle with finding new identities, new friends, and new ways to fit in. While no two kids are the same, there are some basic ways to help your kids to adjust to a move, regardless of their age.
1. Give your child as much notice as possible that you are moving. This will give him plenty of time to adjust to the idea rather than being shocked and unable to process the information later.
2. Encourage communication. Ask your child how she feels about the move often, and be open with your own feelings to demonstrate that some nervousness is normal. Acknowledge her sadness or disappointment and be sympathetic while reassuring her that you will make the process as easy as possible.
3. Place a lot of emphasis on the positive aspects of moving. After the move, your child will be able to have a new beginning, meet new friends, and experience new opportunities. If he has been having a tough time academically or socially in his current neighborhood or school, a fresh start somewhere else can be extra appealing.
4. Depending on your child’s age, books that talk about moving and how to handle it can be especially helpful.
5. Although you are likely busy packing and making arrangements, and your child may be packing up her own room as well, make sure you take plenty of breaks to play and relax amidst all the hard work. The constant drive of packing can be tough on your child, and breaks are refreshing.
6. Include your child in the decorating aspect of your new place, even if it is just input in decorating his own room. This will help him feel proud of his new space.
7. Once you are in the new home, place a high priority on organizing your child’s room first. While the rest of the house is in disarray and being unpacked, she will have a place that is put together for her to retreat to, and that has some semblance of the home she is used to with all of her things.
8. Look for new opportunities your child can get involved in right away, like sports or clubs.
9. Encourage your child to write letters and make phone calls to her friends in her old neighborhood.