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. Even a short-distance move can be hard for your child. If you have more than one child, each of them may react differently to the move.
The following hints can help make the move easier for your child.
Talk about the move ahead of time so she can get used to the idea. 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 paint for her new bedroom. Have your child pack and label a box of her favorite belongings. Pack your child’s things late in the moving process. Let her open the box as soon as you arrive in the new home.
Set up your child’s room first. Spending the night in her own bed helps your child 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 your child’s first day. If she will ride a bus to school, drive the same route the bus will take so it feels familiar. If you live close to school, walk with her to and from school several times before her first day.
Help your child create an address book for her friends. Encourage your child to call, email, or send cards to old playmates. Arrange phone calls or play dates. Skype can be a good way to stay in touch with friends and family who are far away.
Host a farewell party and take lots of pictures.
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 her about moving. Be a good listener and let your child talk about her feelings. Let her know you understand that she might feel nervous about meeting new kids, attending a new school, and finding her way around. Also let her know you will be willing to help her deal with any concerns and problems that arise.
It will take a while to adjust and feel settled again. It helps to spend time together as a family, do things together, and support each other.
Moving can be a great chance to learn about a new neighborhood, city, or 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, let her join a scouting group or sports team. 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 her to bring new friends home.
If some time after the move, your child doesn’t seem to be adjusting, talk with her healthcare provider or school counselor.