Life changes are difficult and stressful, and moving can be especially troubling for children. They are asked to leave behind their whole world and everything that is familiar to them. What can parents do to help children accept the move and view the changes in their lives as an adventure and not a nightmare?
Recognize the Different Age Stages
Really young children like toddler age, may not be totally aware of the changes that are taking place. However, children between the ages of 5 and elementary, understand the concept of moving, and that their lives are about to be different. They might take the news a bit harder, and will express their concerns more verbally. Letting them spend one special day with their friends before the move; take pictures and create a photo album can lessen the stress, and help make parting a little easier.
Teens are the most theatrical group, and will vigorously protest the need to move. Children in this age group have developed special friendships, and are socially involved at school. They will need time to process and cope with the ordeal of leaving their friends. They will also be worried about making new friends and fitting in at their new school. If possible, parents can agree to allow their child to visit with their friends at least a couple of times per year. Remind them that technology allows them to easily stay in touch via Facebook, Skype. or another popular media website. To keep a healthy open relationship with children, and to keep communication channels open, follow these simple tips and advice:
Be Honest and Up front
No one like surprises. Share why you need to move, and why the move is important. Children don't like to be deceived or tricked, so don't avoid answering questions. Don't spring the move on them at the last minute. Let them know in advance that a relocation to a new home, city or state is a necessity, and why. Answer any questions they might have, and don't be afraid to share your own personal feelings.
Plan the Move Together
Children like to be a part of their parents' world. Make moving a family project. Let children help prepare for the move, and encourage them to pack their own boxes. Talk to them about giving their extra clothes, toys or other items to Goodwill or to a friend or family member they will be leaving behind. If necessary, help children to write "Good bye" letters to their friends, teachers and classmates. Plan a going away party, and let children invite their neighborhood friends and classmates. This will help them with closure.
Share and Talk About Negative or Scary Feelings
Children might not bring up the subject of moving, as they may be angry, afraid or confused. However, initiating a conversation about moving, and how scary it can be can alleviate the tension. Children will adjust more easily if they can share their feelings and concerns. Let them know that everyone anticipates changes in their lives, and that moving is not a bad change. Let them know that while they are moving away, they still have their old friends, and now they will be making new friends, as well. Encourage children to get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of their old friends so they can stay in touch.
Scope Out the New Location Together
Bring children along to the real estate office, or to see the houses you are considering. If possible, allow them to choose their own bedroom. Ask them questions that encourages them to talk, such as, "Where do you think your bed should go?" or "Do you think you need a new rug to match the colors in your new room?" These questions give children a sense of control and help them make the transition to their new life.
Tips for a Successful Less Stressful Move
Make the decision to move a family decision. Get excited about moving, and let it show. Involve children as much as possible. Take a weekend off and set a date for the entire family to visit the new location. Help children scope out the neighborhood and locate the park, gym, library, and other places of interest. Talk about what positive changes the move can mean to the family as a whole.
Thinking of making a move to Chicago's North Shore? We can help make the move less stressful for everyone in the family. We'll start with our Tour of the Shore, to familiarize you with the communities, schools, house values and amenities. Call us at 847.881.6657 to find out more.