A move can really take a toll on a family. From packing up boxes, selling a home, working with a mortgage company, and finding new schools and other important locations in your new area, there’s a lot to take care of and a lot going on. Financially, logistically, and physically, it’s a time of massive change. This kind of event is a lot for adults to deal with, but it can also be emotionally overwhelming, even traumatic, for children, who may not fully comprehend what is happening. If you are planning a family move, here are some ways to help your kids ease the transition:
Give Them Plenty of Time
The news that the family is moving can be a lot for a child to process, and you’ll want to give your kids ample time to let them know what will be happening; don’t spring this on them! Saying something like, “our family will be moving to a new house in a few months, and we will all work together to make this happen” can be helpful. Of course, family situations may necessitate a quicker move than anticipated, but overall work to give your children time to accept as well as time to plan for what is happening.
Have Regular “Check Ins”
Although decisions related to moving are for adults to make, young people still need to be given the opportunity to voice their opinion on what is happening. It’s important to regularly check in with your child about how he/she is feeling. For example, it’s a good idea to say something like, “I know this is going to be a big change in your life. How are you feeling about all of this?” Since many children may not yet have a full emotional vocabulary, it can help to give them some options, like: “Are you sad about the move? Are you excited? Nervous?” We cannot cope with difficult emotions unless we first acknowledge them, so create an environment where they are free to express feelings.
Provide Opportunities For Closure
Just as adults need to say goodbye, children need closure too. Ask them about the people and places they’d like to see before they leave, then take them to say goodbye to friends, teachers, a favorite park, or other places that are meaningful and hold special memories for them. By doing this, you are helping your young ones understand that we sometimes need to grieve things that we’re sad about, but that we can also move on and be happy.
Prepare Them For New Changes
Change is hard for everyone! Talk to your children about some of the changes they will experience- a new house, new friends, and a new school. Chances are they will be more than a little nervous (and perhaps even upset about this). Remind them that no matter what changes happen, you care for them and will be there for them. Also, let them know that even though change can be difficult, it can also give us new opportunities and be very good!