Most families will have to move at least once in their lifetime. Moving is stressful enough for adults, but it’s even worse for kids. Leaving friends, a familiar school and neighborhood behind and having to start all over can be troubling and even traumatic for some children.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize your child’s stress and anxiety associated with moving to a new city. In this article, we’re going to look at a few tips to ensure your kids have the best possible experience when moving to a new location.
The first step in preparing your children for a move is to communicate with them. Tell them everything you can about the town you’re moving to and answer any questions that they have. Also, it’s a good idea to sit down at the computer with them and browse the area where you’re moving. Thanks to Google Street View, you can become familiar with your surroundings before you arrive.
Check out the city’s website for fun things to do to get your kids enthusiastic about going to a new place.
Make sure your kids are involved in the process of searching for schools, parks, activities, and attractions they might be interested in; this makes them feel like they’re a part of the process and help alleviate feelings of being helpless and out of control.
While they might still be unhappy about the change, communicating the reasons for the move, and involving them in the process of moving goes a long way toward making them feel better about a tough situation.
How to Move with Toddlers and Preschoolers
Small children are sometimes easier to deal with when it comes to significant life changes as opposed to older kids who have become attached to a school, friends, and neighborhood. But, that doesn’t mean they won’t become anxious when having to leave familiar surroundings for a strange environment.
To deal with smaller children make sure you explain what’s happening in clear, simple terms. You might try role-playing and act out moving to a new town with your children. This can be a fun activity they can participate in, and help them better understand what’s going to happen.
Some realtors have virtual tours of homes. If the home you’re moving to is available to tour via the computer, sit down with your child and take a ‘walk’ through the house. Let them pick out their room and decide where they want their bed and their toy box to go; this makes them feel like they’re integral to the move rather than just a bystander.
How to Move with Teens
Everyone knows how tough teens can be. They’re at an age where they’re beginning to rebel against authority and assert themselves. It’s also a time when they’re dependent on friends they’ve likely been with since grade school, and in some cases, they’ve discovered their first love. Moving a teen out of what they consider their life support system can be a nightmare, but there are ways to minimize everyone’s frustration.
As mentioned earlier, the most important thing you can do is communicate with your teenagers. Explain to them why you have to move and let them vent their frustrations and concerns. This can be a useful teaching lesson on changes they’ll experience as they progress through life: Going off to college, getting that first real job, getting married, having kids, and possibly having to move with their new family.
Lastly, as with younger children, do everything you can to involve them in the process. Having some control over the situation makes them feel less frustrated and can make it easier for everyone.
Solve Problems in Advance
No matter how well you prepare your kids for a big move, they’ll have questions and concerns. How will they make new friends? Where are they going to go to school? What is there to do for fun? All of these questions and others you probably haven’t thought of yet will be on your children’s minds from the minute you tell them you’re going to move.
You can alleviate these concerns and ‘problems’ by solving them in advance as best as you can. If your kid knows what school they’re going to, what there is to do in town, what social clubs they can engage in to make friends before they go, they’ll be less stressed and worried about these things.
With older kids and teenagers, one of the hardest things about a move is leaving their friends. If possible, plan on making trips back home on a regular basis, so your kids don’t have to give up those they’ve become close. While there are plenty of social media outlets for kids to stay in touch, it’s not the same as hanging out with friends and going out to the movies on a double date. If you can keep these bonds going, your kids will be much less resistant to moving away.
And while you’re doing your best to help your kids keep ties to their old friends, it’s important to stress to them that they’re going to be making many new friends too. A chance to start fresh with new people who share your hobbies and interests can be exciting.
It’s a cliché to be sure, but focusing on the positive aspects of moving can help lessen the anxiety you and your children have. Maybe the school has more to offer than the current school. Perhaps the town has an amusement park nearby. Maybe the weather is warm all year round. The important thing to remember is that if you’re positive, it’s likely to rub off on your kids. If you’re upset, stressed, and anxious about the move, your kids will be as well.
It’s true that moving — while exciting — can be stressful for everyone involved. It’s easy for kids to become depressed or sad about leaving everything they know behind. But if you’re committed to communicating and making them a part of the process as much as possible, it goes a long way to alleviate their fears and anxieties and makes the best of what seems like a bad situation.