Moving can be stressful for everyone involved, but for kids, it can be even more stressful. Here’s how you can help prepare your child for a move and make the process as smooth as possible.
Much More than Boxes
For children, moving is much more than just packing up boxes and going to a new house. They need to be emotionally prepared for a move, which is especially important if your child is leaving their school and friends.
If your family is dealing with a major life event like a death or divorce, you may want to postpone a move, experts recommend. This can help give your child time to adjust to the major life event before adding a move on top of it.
How to Communicate about a Move
Whether you’re moving because of a job, a financial situation or something else, it’s important to communicate the move with your child before it happens:
- Give them as much information about the move as possible. Where are you moving? Why? When?
- Answer questions as truthfully as you can.
- Be prepared for positive and negative reactions. Even if the move is a positive change for your family, kids may not understand this and may instead be focused on the frightening aspects of the change.
- If you’re able, including children in the house-hunting process or process of finding a new school can help alleviate some concerns about moving.
- If you’re staying in the same area, take your child to look at the new house and let them explore the area. See what parks, stores and restaurants are nearby.
If you’re moving with toddlers or younger children, consider explaining things in simple, easy to understand terms. You may even find that acting out the moving process using toys like trucks or pretending to pack boxes could be helpful. Like with older children, if your new home is nearby, let your child visit a few times and bring some toys each time they go over.
Also, like going through big life changes above, try to avoid trying to potty train or move your child from a crib to a toddler bed during or right after your move.
For older children, it can be helpful to involve them in the moving process by letting them help pack or choosing a new color for their room. Experts note that simple things like this can help make a child feel more in control during a time of uncertainty.
Once the move happens, it can be helpful to keep to the routine you had at your previous home, which means having the same mealtimes or bedtime.
Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, communicating with your child, letting them help and keeping routines can help ease the stress that comes with the transition.