Moving homes is a big deal no matter how old you are. If you are still just a kid, moving to a new home can feel especially overwhelming and intimidating.
The Child Mind Institute offers a variety of tips on how to help your children smoothly adjust to, and hopefully enjoy, the move:
Provide ways in which your kids can take ownership in the move. It can feel disconcerting for a child during this transitional period because they can feel as if they are losing control. Help your children find ways to regain a sense of control.
Depending on the child’s age and interests, this might include: helping to pack their own boxes, choosing the bedroom’s color, or perhaps picking out a new bike that he/she can ride around their new neighborhood.
Don’t overlook the importance of memories.
Remember, your children are not only moving away from a physical location, but it can also feel as if they are moving from favorite or pleasing memories. As parents, it’s important to help your children to recognize that these memories are important and valued. At the same time, help your kids to discover new, exciting memories on the horizon.
Tears are okay (and probably inevitable).
Moving is a big deal. It’s okay (and in some ways, a healthy sign) if kids feel sad about moving from their home—They too should know it is okay to feel this way.
Help them sort through their emotions. Allow them time and space to talk through what exactly is making them feel sad. Then, after these feelings have been identified and recognized, find solutions together, as a family. How can you all make this new home your own?
Mindfully placing various objects that feellike home around your new home (especially in your child’s room) can help children settle in and begin to feel at home in the new space. For example, even if it’s buried at the bottom of a box or suitcase, it may be worthwhile in the long-run to unpack that familiar comforter or stuffed animal collection, so that this can accompany your child on his/her first night in the new home.
Once you arrive, figure out a new routine.
This is especially important for young children. Research shows that children rely on routine. Amidst the scattered boxes and disruptive renovations that often go along with a recent move, find a way to make your family’s new routine a priority.
“Hello” is the first word in a new friendship.
Making new friends and leaving old friends behind can be a difficult process for anyone. As parents, support your children through this process. Although it may be challenging, if handled properly, children can learn valuable social skills, so use this transition as an opportunity.
As for old friends, be sure your children know that their old friends do not have to disappear from their lives forever. Show them this. For example, encourage them to stay in touch through phone calls or even occasional visits.
As for new friends, having a model for how to introduce oneself and make friends can be extremely helpful. Don’t simply expect kids to pick these skills up on their own. Instead, show them how this works. Be an example in this way.
Also, build your children’s confidence – Although it may sound simple, remind them to be themselvesand to be open to their new peers. Help them find extra-curricular activities that they enjoy. We often connect with others over similar interests. This goes for kids too.
Connect with teachers and instructors.
In most cases, you will not be with your child all 24 hours of the day. So, gaining feedback from the adults their life (such as teachers, instructors, and school administrators) can help you navigate this transition and determine how you can best help your child.
At the end of the day, you know your child best. Be there to support your child through this transition and make this your priority.
During the course of your family’s move, there will likely be difficult moments, but you can provide your children with stability through this process that will help set them up for success in their new home and community.