Moving during childhood is something many of us did as kids. Whether a move is to a bigger home or a school district with more resources or related to a parent’s career or a change in marital status, it can be challenging for children.
Here are 10 popular tips behavioral experts typically suggest to help you prepare your children to make a successful transition.
Talk about it. Older children should be made aware of the decision as soon as possible, since they are likely to know something is happening. Very young children should be told no later than a month ahead of time and before strangers start arriving for showings if a home is being sold.
Set expectations. Stress what will stay for the same for the child while setting expectations for what will change. Regardless of age, children need the reassurance about what will happen next.
Tour the new digs. Help them gain familiarity with the areas that will be of interest to them—what the parks, schools, and downtown areas look like. Consider enrolling them in activities that will let them make new friends before they move in if the neighborhood is nearby. Alternatively, if the new home is too far, arrange for a virtual tour through the Real Estate Agent and visit your new town’s online sites.
Keep a journal. Specialists suggest having children take photos of their favorite spots and friends for a memory book, with the last page being a photo of the new house. This literally lets them create a narrative of their personal journey that leads to the next chapter in their lives.
Encourage staying in touch. In previous decades, leaving friends behind meant trying to stay in contact through letters. Today, social media, text messaging, FaceTime, and the ability to play online games makes it much easier to continue sharing the daily moments that connect your children to the friends made at every stage of their lives.
Set a good example. Let your children see how you are adjusting to what you left behind. Acknowledge what has changed, what you miss, and how excited you are about the new adventures you are having and people you are meeting because of the move.
Refrain from changing everything. Younger children especially tend to find comfort in familiar surroundings and routines. Try to keep as much the same for them as possible. Consider keeping furniture and their old toys, clothes—even bed sheets—until they start to feel more comfortable.
Read stories about moving. Seek out books that help tell the story of adjusting in ways they can identify with and will be age appropriate for them.
Create a refuge. Set up your children’s rooms first, before the rest of the home. That will provide them with a stable place to be among the chaos of settling into a new home, especially if work is still being done on it.
Be patient. There may still be several months of adjusting. In those months, you have an opportunity to grow closer. Since the entire family will be going through the same transition, to differing degrees, it creates a lot of common ground for strengthening the foundation of your relationship.