Whether it's just across town or all the way across the globe, moving is a big change no matter what age you are. It can be especially daunting for kids and teenagers who are already busy navigating the challenges of growing up and making friends. Helping kids cope with moving can be tough, but there are some simple things parents can do to make it a positive experience for the whole family.
1. Role-Play the Move
Any time young kids are faced with something new and challenging, rather than just talking it out, try playing it out. This helps kids explore big feelings and ideas on a playing field they already understand.
I was eight months pregnant with my second child when we made a big move from our tiny apartment to our first house across the city. Not only was my daughter about to start a new life as a big sister, she was also facing a new home and a new school all at the same time. She was five years old at the time, and one of her favorite things to do was role-play with her dolls and stuffed animals.
As we neared our move, I started to incorporate all these big changes into our playtime together, role-playing scenarios of moving and making new friends. It helped her tremendously with exploring her feelings about the situation, that would otherwise be hard for a young child to express.
2. Empower Them
No matter what age, from the time they're a toddler to those tumultuous teenage years, kids love to feel in control of their lives. Empowering kids can help them feel less insecure about living in a new house or going to a new school.
Start by letting them make choices about their new rooms. Let them choose a color to paint the walls or go shopping for new decor. Whatever the plan is for your new home, let them take control of how their personal space will look. This will help kids get excited about moving and make it easier to say goodbye to your old home.
3. Find New Favorites
One of the tough parts about moving for my daughter was leaving behind places in our neighborhood, like her favorite park and her dance class. Although there were boxes to unpack and a baby on the way to prepare for, I set aside those things in favor of exploring our neighborhood as soon as we moved.
Check out the local parks and libraries, and find new classes to join. Helping kids cope with moving may mean rethinking priorities in order to focus on their needs first. Getting my daughter settled into new activities immediately made her at ease with leaving her old ones behind.
Leave the boxes sitting for the night and go out to the local pizza shop instead of ordering in. Get outside and explore your neighborhood as soon as possible, even if it's just to take a walk around the block. The faster you begin to share special moments and make new memories in your new home, the easier it will be to move forward.
4. Put Yourself out There
Making friends when you're new is hard no matter how old you are. The best way to help kids learn how to make new friends is to lead by example. Get out in the community and attend events or classes where you can meet other families.
If your kids will be attending a new school, find out if they have any events you can check out before school starts. Show your kids how to make introductions and meet new people, by reaching out and making new ones yourself. In the end, you will all start to feel comfortable as you build a new circle of friends.
Moving is a big change for your whole family, but it can be especially difficult for kids and teenagers. Taking a little extra time to focus on your child's feelings can help them feel more self-confident in their new neighborhood and make moving easier for everyone.
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Why It’s Good
Moving to a new place can be especially hard on kids, but by taking time to work through your kids' feelings and focus on getting them settled, it can make the transition much easier. No matter what age, involving them in the process from the beginning can go a long way to helping kids cope with moving.