Moving with Children
Moving is both physically and emotionally challenging for adults -- if it weren't, you probably wouldn't be considering hiring a mover -- but it can be especially trying for kids, who aren't in control of family decisions and have less developed coping skills. For a great brochure on how to help your children navigate the excitement, commotion, and loss surrounding a move, see Iowa State University extension office's "Understanding Children: Moving to a New Home." Below is a brief summary of advice from child experts on how to make a move easier for kids.
- Tell your children about the move as soon as possible. Much of the stress associated with moving relates to dealing with the unknown. Share the details, encourage their questions and listen to what they have to say.
- Involve your children in all aspects of your relocation. Try to bring them along with you on house hunting trips. If this isn't possible, photograph or videotape the house, as well as the neighborhood and new school. If children are old enough, consider asking for input about where furniture and decorations should go in the new home.
- Take your children to see the new location before you move and walk in the new neighborhood together.
- Encourage your children to help with packing. Allow them to perform small moving chores that are age appropriate. For example, let them pack a box or two of their toys, games, books, blankets and other personal belongings.
- Help your child pack a carton or daypack with most prized possessions to carry with them on moving day.
- Ask your children to exchange addresses and telephone numbers with friends. A letter or phone call to or from an old friend can boost the spirits of a child in a strange, new community.
- If your children participated in activities like scouts, little league, school band or choir, enroll them in the same or similar activities in the new community as soon as possible.
- Be open and understanding about potential "see-saws" of emotion. Let children know that it's okay to feel a mix of emotions surrounding a move, both pleasureable (like excitement and anticipation) and painful (like anxiety, fear, and loss.)
- A child's response to a move will depend in large part on his or her personality and developmental age. While outgoing kids might make friends quickly and easily, introverted kids could take much longer to form connections. Be patient and supportive.
- Moves are stressful for kids because they involve dramatic change and loss, so try to maintain as many regular family routines and rituals as possible.
- Spend time with your children after the move to help them get acquainted with their new home, neighborhood and school.
- Be a good role model by showing children the strategies you're using to adjust --like reaching out to meet new friends or talking about feelings. Kids are far more likely to cope skillfully with a move if Mom and Dad are modelling helpful behaviors.