Most children will move at least once during their childhood. While moving can often be exciting, it can also mean leaving a familiar home, school, and neighborhood, and saying good-bye to best friends and schoolmates. Through a child's eyes, even a short-distance move can be hard to accept. The following hints can help.
Talk early about the move so your child can get used to the idea. As tempting as it may be to send your child off to grandma's while you deal with all the details, reconsider! Your child gains control over the scary unknown by helping with move-related activities. Perhaps she can pick out new wallpaper or the color of pain for her new bedroom. Have your child pack and label a box of her favorite belongings. Let your child open the box as soon as you arrive in the new home. Pack your child’s things late in the moving process.
Set up your child’s room first. Spending the night in their own bed helps children feel more comfortable. Try to keep a normal schedule for meals and bedtime.
Distance permitting, drive to your new home and neighborhood a few times before you move. Subscribe to a local newspaper. Call the Chamber of Commerce for pamphlets about your new community. Make a video or start a scrapbook with pictures of your new home, yard, child's room, school, and playground. Visit the new school and meet the teacher before the first day of school.
Help your child create a special address book for his friends. Encourage your child to email or send cards to old playmates. Arrange periodic calls or visits. Skype can be a good way to stay in touch with friends and family who are far away.
Host a farewell party and take photographs as keepsakes.
Invite friends to visit over school vacation. If your child is a teen and will miss the prom or homecoming, see if she can return for the event.
Ask the librarian to help you select books about moving. As you read the book with your child, talk about the problems and concerns of the book's main character. Some moving companies also have special pamphlets and coloring books for children.
Openly talk about feelings of sadness and loss as well as what is good about the move. Ask what worries your child, and also what excites your child about moving. Be a good listener and let your child do the talking. Let your child talk about her feelings and let her know you understand that she might feel nervous about meeting new kids, attending a new school, and finding her way around. Let her know you will be willing to help her deal with any concerns and problems that arise.
Understand that it will take a while to adjust and feel settled again. Emphasize the support and security of the family itself.
Moving can be a great chance to learn about a new neighborhood, city, or maybe even a new country and culture. Get to know parents with children the same age as your child. Join a family-oriented community center. If your child is interested, join a scouting group or other neighborhood activity. Explore museums, amusement parks, or other fun places. Search out music, sports, or dance programs. Look for ways to help your child to feel comfortable and accepted. Encourage your child to bring new friends home.
If some time after the move, you're still concerned about your child's transition, talk with your child’s healthcare provider about it.