Adjusting to a move is not easy for anyone, but children may have even a harder time. They are not the decision makers, so they have to just deal with whatever their parents decide – where they will move, when, and some may not even understand all the reasons for the move, depending on their age. They are leaving friends and family and maybe the only house they have ever known behind. Remember that time and distance may not seem the same to children as it does to you – it may seem much longer and much further. So, even if you are only moving thirty minutes away, many children may feel they have moved very far away from their original home. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to make it easier for them to transition to their new home.
Three Ways To Help Your Child Adjust To A Move
- Encourage them to talk about their feelings
- Let them have choices whenever possible
- Visit friends and family frequently, including old playgrounds and favorite restaurants
Encourage children, even very young children, to discuss their feelings with you. Tell them it’s okay to be angry, sad, nervous, and also to have positive emotions like excitement, hope, and butterflies. Even very young children can express themselves through art or role play. If your child is seriously struggling, taking them to a professional therapist may be the best idea. By all means possible, do anything and everything you can to make sure that their pets are able to move with you, as well as their most beloved toys and furniture. You want to incorporate as much of the familiar as possibly as possible. Let them make a photo album full of friends, relatives, and favorite things like their old tree house. It may seem silly to you, but it will mean everything to them.
So many things about their life is out of their hands – where they are moving and why, when, and how it makes them feel. Children don’t necessarily understand that grave importance of moving to be near an ill grandparent or for a job that will greatly improve their lives. So, if you’re down to two or three or house, and you really have no major preference – why not let the kids decide? It takes the final decision off you and will make them feel like a million bucks. No matter how strapped for cash you are, find a way to let them paint their room a color you can live with once you move. Allow them to pick the first couple local diners you go to, the first movie theatre you visit – you get the idea. Give them some say, and it will make them feel like their lives aren’t hopelessly spinning out of control.
Whenever possible, especially at first, try to visit friends and family. If you move across the country, this might not be happening. But what you can do is Skype frequently, so give them more liberal access to a phone than you normally would. If you can make the journey back on a weekend, do so. Arrange a date for them to see cousins and friends, and take them to their favorite roller rink. As they settle in and make new friends and new connections in your new town, you may find they need to go “home” less and less. But make it a priority in the beginning. On the months you can’t go home, encourage them to make videos about their new neighborhood and house to send to friends and grandma. There are many ways to let a child know you haven’t and won’t forget the people you loved back home – and that’s what they are really needing from you.