Chances are high that at some point in your life you will be moving. Many of us will be moving with children. Job transfers, the unstable economy, a bigger house are all reasons to move. Even though we may be exited at new opportunities we may have some sadness at saying goodbye. For children and teens moving can be especially difficult. Sadness may be pronounced and even traumatic.
My husband is in a job which requires frequent transfers. In the 21 years that we have been married we have moved 9 times. Years ago, the guidance counselor at the school that one of my daughters attended told me something scary. According to her, kids are more likely to resent parents for moving them than they are anything else.
Then, she gave me some suggestions that made sense. We put them into practice and added some ideas of our own. My daughters are both in college now. They both have survived all the moves and adjusted successfully.
If you are moving the following tips may help your children too. No doubt, you will have some ideas of your own to add.
Moving with Children Tip #1
Talk to your kids when you find out that you are moving. Use terms that they can understand. Don’t feel that you have to protect them or shelter them. Be straightforward and honest. It’s ok to tell them that you don’t have all the answers. Try to be as reassuring as possible.
Moving with Children Tip #2
Allow them their feelings. There will be times when they will be happy, mad, sad and angry. This is normal. Let them express their feelings in healthy ways. Accept their feelings as valid even though they may change from minute to minute.
Moving with Children Tip #3
Don’t belittle their feelings or tell the kids how rough you had it as a kid. They don’t care that you had to carry boxes (up the hill both ways) in the snow while barefoot. They want to be reassured that everything is going to be ok.
Moving with Children Tip #4
Be noncommittal. Don’t promise the largest bedroom, a raise in the allowance or anything else. You may or may not be able to live up to those promises. Your kids may try to pigeonhole you into making a commitment. Don’t let them do it.
Moving with Children Tip #5
Try to get them excited. Talk about some of the things that there will be in the new place or area that you are moving to. If possible, visit ahead of time and let them pick out something to do or see. Even if you can’t go in, at least drive by the schools. Getting a packet from the Chamber of Commerce may help.
Moving with Children Tip #6
Let them pack up their own things. Help them sort through their belongings. If you are taking items to a charity let them have a say in where the things go. Let them help drop the items off. Knowing they are helping someone else can help them with the move.
Moving with Children Tip #7
Make goodbye meaningful. For one of our moves our daughters invited friends for a “Backyard Best Friends Forever Party”. It was summer. We grilled hot dogs, squirted each other with water pistols and threw water balloons. The kids had a great time and it helped them say goodbye.
Moving with Children Tip #8
Help them see that they aren’t losing friends. Help them see that they are gaining new ones. In this day and age of phone, email and texting kids have more options to keep up with friends than ever before. Reminding them to use these options can help your child have a brighter outlook about the move.
Moving with Children Tip #9
Let them decide how to set up their room. Even if you hate the layout give your child space to make the decisions. This helps them feel like they have control over something and helps them feel better about their new surroundings.
Moving with Children Tip #10
Help your child meet someone before school starts. See if the school would be willing to share your contact information with a student. Contact a church or scouting group to see if a student or member would be interested in making a new friend. Even if your child doesn’t like the person she or he meets it can still go a long way toward breaking the ice at school. Who knows? The kids might just hit it off and become lifelong friends.
Moving with Children Tip #11
Help your child feel supported. If your child is struggling ask if there’s anything you can do that will help. Sometimes just asking the question is enough to turn things around.
Moving with Children Tip #12
Call in the pros. Your child may need professional help if she or he is having adjusting after a few weeks. A guidance counselor or professional therapist may be able to help your child make a successful adjustment.
School Guidance Counselor