Moving can be a difficult prospect for anyone. Adjusting to a new home, new community, and new people is a challenging process. But it is often hardest on children, who may not easily understand the benefits that come along with the move. A move that has to be accomplished quickly, like a military relocation or a sudden job transfer, can be the most difficult of all. For a child who has no say in the matter, such a move can feel like an arbitrary and unfair burden, as well as a disorienting change. No parent wants to see their child struggle with the fallout of a move, but it can be difficult to know how to make it easier on them. The following are some tips that can help.
Emphasize the Positive
At first, your child may only see the worst. They have to leave their friends, as well as any family members that live in the area that you're leaving. They will have to be the new kid at school -- a particularly daunting trial for children of any age. The positive aspects of the move that apply to you, like a better, higher paid position at work, may not matter to your child at all. It's up to you to find the positive aspects of the move that apply to your children.
Will you be moving to a bigger home, or one with features that your kids have always wanted? A bigger room, the first chance at having their own rooms away from their siblings, or a feature like a swimming pool can all be exciting and positive changes for a child. Are you moving near a fun theme park, a beach, or some other fascinating attraction? Chances are the answer is yes. Do your research and find out what it is so that you can share it with your children.
In some cases, even changing schools can be spun into a positive change. If your child has struggled socially or academically, this is their chance to make a fresh start. And older children -- tweens and teenagers -- may welcome the chance to reinvent themselves without any baggage.
Maintain Ties With Your Old Community
As important as it will be for your child to make new friends and put down new roots in their new community, they will feel more secure if you can assure them that they won't have to lose contact with their friends and loved ones from your old community.
If you experienced a move as a child, you may remember it being very difficult to remain in touch with your old friends. Long distance phone calls were expensive and letters were slow. But in today's world, keeping in contact is a breeze. Many cell phone plans allow for inexpensive calling anywhere in the country.
A free email account is simple to set up and navigate. Teens can take advantage of social media that they may already be using, like Facebook and Twitter, to chat with their old friends whenever they like. For young children, there are numerous child-safe social media, messaging, and gaming sites like Club Penguin, GeckoLife, and PlayKids Talk that can allow them to stay in touch with friends with your supervision. Find out what communication tools kids in your community are using, and make sure your kids have accounts and are connected with their friends before you leave.
Expect Some Emotion
No matter how carefully you prepare them, your kids are likely to experience some sadness, homesickness, and even anger about the move. Be accepting of their emotions and let them know it's okay to feel the way that they're feeling.
Help your kids find healthy and constructive ways to handle their difficult emotions. Encourage them to talk it out with you and ask for help when they need it. However, allow them some space to process in their own way as well. Homesickness is common and not something to be afraid of -- in most cases it will pass on its own as your kids begin to get involved in their new home and community.
Moving as a family is challenging, but it's also an exciting new adventure that you're all taking together, and you may find that the experience brings you closer together. For more moving tips from the experts, follow us on Twitter!