Relocating is challenging and can be especially scary for children. Guiding your child through the experience with patience and knowledge can make your family’s transition into your new home a fun adventure. Your current home may be the only one your child has ever known. Part of your child’s feeling safe in your existing home is his familiarity with the area, his neighborhood friends, the parks, schools and everything around it. From your child’s point of view, these items won’t exist anymore. Understanding your children’s concerns and needs will lessen the stress of the move for you and your family.
It’s important for parents to understand that kids have different concerns at different ages. For preschool children, moving elicits fears of being left behind or separated from their parents. Older kids between the ages of 6 and 12 have concerns about how their daily routines will be impacted. Teenagers worry about what a move will do to their social lives and about fitting in at their new school.
The key to easing these worries is acknowledging and addressing them with your children. If possible, take your children on a visit to your new home and neighborhood. If your new home is out of town or in a different state, providing your children with pictures and videotape of your new house will help them to feel more comfortable with their future surroundings. Calling the local Chamber of Commerce and requesting brochures about the area is another way to help your children visualize what their new town will be like.
Parents should have several discussions with their children about what the new area will be like before moving day. Visiting the new school or daycare center with your children and meeting their teachers is another way to help with the transition. Some parents have even been lucky enough to establish pen pals the same age as their children, helping them to learn about their new area while gaining a new friend in the process. Ask your children what their favorite things are in their lives at your existing home so you can make as many of those things happen at your new home.
Kids will inevitably have lots of questions and it’s important to answer them positively, focusing on things to look forward to like a first snowfall or their new bedroom. One way to put this into action is by asking your children how they would like to decorate their new room, allowing them to pick the paint color or new bedroom set.
You can get your kids actively involved with the moving process by having them pack their own belongings. Many parents have their younger children decorate their boxes with stickers and crayons, keeping this box close at hand during the move.
One of the hardest parts about moving is leaving friends behind. By throwing a going away party for your child with their friends, you can take lots of pictures and make a scrapbook for them to look back on. Be sure to give your children pre-stamped cards and stationary to help them to stay in touch with their friends.
Moving into a new home in a different city or state can be scary for children. Understanding your children’s concerns is the first step to acknowledging and addressing them. By helping your children to focus on things to look forward to, actively packing their personal belongings and making choices about how to decorate their future bedroom, moving won’t seem so scary.