How to Help Kids Cope with Moving
Moving is stressful on everyone involved, but it can be even more challenging to cope with for kids, especially if they have to go somewhere far away from their friends and everyone and everything they are familiar with. Children like routine and are often less equipped to adjust to moving than adults, part of the problem being that they have no control over the situation and cannot always understand the benefits of moving. As a result, they may become emotionally withdrawn or act out in rebellion.
Our years in the industry have given us experience with all sorts of moving situations and customers, and with many of us having kids of our own at Moving Ahead, we have valuable insight on how to make the transition easier for you and your kids.
Explain Why You’re Moving
Be sure to sit down with your kids, regardless of how young they are, and explain the need to move in a way they can understand. If you are moving because of a negative situation such as divorce or financial troubles, try not to lie about the situation, as this can add to any disappointment or distrust they may be feeling for you and alienate them. Keep a positive spin on matters and watch what kind of attitude you demonstrate in front of them, as they will be more likely to be positive if you are. Emphasize the encouraging results to expect such as having more space, time, or belongings, and be clear that they are in no way to blame for any hardships and that the move is not a means of punishment for anything. Let him or her know that you and your child are a team and that you will be there to support them every step of the way.
Give them Closure
Allow your child to visit their favorite places one last time and say goodbye to friends or family. Throw a going away party so that they can have a fun memory to hold on to rather than a gloomy one. You may want to put together a scrap album or help them collect contact information from friends so that they can stay in touch. Perhaps have them exchange handmade crafts or other gift items with friends and family so that they have an easy way to keep people in their thoughts. If not moving too far away, you can schedule a play date with their best friend at your new home so that they have something to look forward to and understand that moving isn’t an end to their friendship. If they have a favorite place to go in your current town, try to come up with some sort of token they can take with them, whether it is a rock they pick from the park or a shirt with the town’s name on it.
Help Them Look Forward to It
When you first arrive at your new dwelling, make things fun after unpacking by renting a movie, getting some pizza, or maybe even having a “campout” in the living room of your new home so that your child doesn’t have to be alone on their first night. Do some research on what your new town will have to offer, and if your child is currently on a team or participates in some sort of other organized activity, try to find an equivalent one for them to become a part of in their new town. If there are any particularly interesting or fun places to go in your new town, be sure to tell your child about them and take them to visit those places within the first week or so of arriving there. When your child is worried about making new friends, try to find something cool they can tell people about or show people at school that will help give them confidence and start conversations. It also helps if you make friends with other parents and schedule activities with each other’s families so that your kids can get to know people outside of school. Overall, try to get your child to see the move as an adventure rather than something sad.
We have found over the years that these steps help children adjust to moving with more ease and help them view the situation with optimism. Not to mention, if they can cope with a move more effectively, they will be more equipped to cope with other situations as they get older. The biggest thing to remember is to be positive and to set a positive example while still being open and honest with your child, building a strong, team-like bond.