Kids thrive on familiarity and routines, so to learn that they are moving can be traumatic. Whether your decision to move is optional or not, some kids may have trouble understanding it, especially if they were not involved in the decision making process.
Discussion Tips For All Kids
- Prepare your kids by informing them early about the move. Give them time to get used to the idea if possible. Talk about the move often to reinforce that it is real and going to happen.
- Kids immediate reaction can be fear for the unknown. Try to give them plenty of information about the move and encourage any questions. Answer them honestly and be prepared for a variety of reactions.
- If you're moving nearby, take your kids to see the new destination. Allow them to do some exploring. Being able to visualise where they are going help to relieve any anxiety.
- Try to involve your kids in the move as much as possible so they feel they are contributing and being a good help. Encourage their opinions and participation. For example you may get them to help cut out some real estate ads from the paper to help find a house in their new town.
- If moving far away, try to collate as much information and images of the new destination to show your kids – of the town/city, house, school. Find out what facilities and activities they can be involved in.
Easing The Transition For Young Kids (Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers)
Your support and guidance is crucial, even though kids under five years old generally do not understand what kind of changes are about to occur. This age bracket is deemed to be the easiest when moving.
Ways you can help young children are:
- Use books and stories to show what moving is and explain to them what will be happening. For example furniture, toys and clothes will all be packed up and moved out.
- Keep explanations simple and precise.
- While packing up their things, explain what you are doing and that their toys are not being thrown out or taken away for long.
- If not moving too far away, unpack a few toys and belongings in the new destination so they can understand where their things are going.
- Try to keep some of your kid's familiar items like their bedroom furniture, until they have settled into their new home. Make changes slowly.
- If preferred, ask someone to mind your toddler or come with you to help take care of them on the days you are moving. Not only is it safer, you can move about much faster and get it done quickly!
Easing The Transition For School Age Children
Elementary or middle aged school children are generally fairly open to a move and can be excited. Involve them as much as possible in the move. Give them some responsibilities like packing some items so they feel needed and helpful.
At this age, one of their biggest concerns is associated with the new school they will move to. Regardless of what time of the year you move, there may still be some nerves and reservations for your kids. To them it means a new routine, new friends, new teachers plus much more.
To help the transition run smoothly to the new school, try to collect as much information, resources and documentation needed by the new school to avoid any stress causing glitches. This may mean providing some school reports, work books from the previous school, tests they have done and medical records.
Easing The Transition For Teens
Teens are a little more susceptible to taking a move badly. It is mostly associated with their closeness of friends and social group. They may be in a relationship or have been long awaiting a special event like an excursion, prom, or concert that they will consequently miss out on. It is common for teens to respond with more rebellion to a move.
If the move will disrupt important schooling exams, you might consider allowing your teen to remain there with a reliable family/friend or relative until the timing is less concerning.
Assure your teen that you too will be endeavoring to stay in close contact with your friends and family and talk about when you may be able to return to visit them. Explain to them that moving on is a part of life and that they too will experience making these decisions later in life like moving to college, a new job, and traveling.
Once You Have Moved
Try to get your kids back in to familiar routines and their rooms unpacked as soon as possible, for example mealtimes, bedtimes and play times. The familiarity will help them settle and feel more secure.
Go with your child to their new school and meet the principal and teachers. Ask their teacher to contact you if they have any questions or concerns about your child. If you don't hear anything, check back in with their teacher after about six weeks to see how they are settling in.
A move can be challenging at times, but if you focus on working through the process together as a family it can bring you closer. Moving out of your comfort zones can help you learn a lot more about each other.