Sooner or later, many families face the prospect of moving. Disruptive as moving can be for parents, the experience can be even more traumatic for children, who may not be a part of the decision to move and may not understand it. Your child may need some time and special attention during the transition. There are some steps you can take to make the entire process less stressful for your entire family.
Many kids thrive on familiarity and routine. So as you consider a move, weigh the possible benefits of such a change against your child's need for surroundings, a school, and social life to which he or she is accustomed. If your family has recently dealt with a major life change, such as divorce or death, postpone a move if possible, to give your child a chance to adjust. The decision to move may be out of your hands, due to a job transfer or financial issues. Even if you're not happy about the move, try to maintain a positive attitude about it with your child. During times of transition, a parent's moods and attitudes can heavily affect the kids, who may be looking for reassurance.
No matter what the circumstances, the most important way you can prepare your child to move is to talk about it early and often. It's a good idea to give your child as much information about the move as soon as possible. Answer your child's questions completely and truthfully, and be receptive to both positive and negative reactions. Even if the move means a clear improvement in family life, your child may not understand that, and he or she may be focused on the frightening aspects of the change.
Involve your child in the planning process as much as possible. If your child feels like a participant in the house-hunting process or the search for a new school, the change may feel less like it is being forced on him or her. If you are moving across town, you may want to take your child to visit the new house (or see it being built) and explore the new neighborhood. If distance prevents this, provide as much information as you can about the new home, city or country.
Learn about where your child can do any favorite activities in the new location. A relative or friend may be able to take pictures of the new house and your child's new school. A real estate agent may even be willing to do this.
Children of different ages will react differently to a move, so you need to know how to approach the situation depending on the age of your child. Join us on the next program when we will explore this.