Moving can be one of the most stressful processes in any person’s life, even if it is being done for a positive reason. It can be hard enough for adults who truly understand the ramifications on the move, but it is generally even harder for children. For children, moving away from the familiar surroundings of a tradition home against their will can make them feel powerless and incredibly upset. It is immensely important that the children’s feelings be considered and handled properly so as to avoid any type of lingering feelings of anger and resentment. Here are some tips to make their ransition as easy as possible:
Let them know the move is coming ASAP
While you may need to shield your child from some of the details for a variety of reasons, it is best to be as honest about the process as much as possible when moving to a new home. Sharing the fact that the move is coming with the child may add stress, but it also gives the child the maximum amount of time to come to grips with inevitable. If time allows, you may want to prepare a written timeline for the move and allow the child to make a list of concerns he has so that you can address them and alleviate problems before they arise.
Allow them to be upset if necessary
The child may go through the usual stages of grief including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance when he is made aware of the news of the move. If the child has trouble making it to the acceptance stage, there is no shame involved in taking him to a professional who has the tools to properly intervene and help. This could be done before the move to help the child cope ahead of time, after the move if the child has trouble dealing with the situation, or both if necessary. Sometimes an outsider’s perspective is the best one to share light on what can be a difficult situation.
Try to permit them the ability to make choices
The choice to move is never within the child’s control, so giving them the task of making certain choices can help them overcome the emotion of complete powerlessness he may otherwise feel. You can let the child choose things like the color of his new bedroom in your New Tradition Home, the location of certain electronic items, or even let the child pick a nickname for your new abode. If you have the ability to spoil your child here – perhaps by promising a new toy, a television set, a computer – you can do so if you like. However, if money is an issue, try your best to work within an affordable framework as far as what you are willing to allow the child to choose. You want them to see the move as a positive experience and sometimes a new gift, pending their cooperation and understanding, will enhance the experience further.
Don’t just talk about it; write about it
Some children may need to talk to you or – in more extreme cases – speak with a counselor when he finds out a move is coming. However, it may also be beneficial to encourage the child to write his feelings out in a diary or draw a picture if the child is young. Make sure the child knows the diary is completely private and that his thoughts will only be shared with others if he decides he wants that. Being able to freely express himself in long written passages can often make the child feel better about the move and help him deal with any stress he is experiencing.
Assure them the friends they are moving away from will not disappear
If you aren’t moving that far away, this is an easy fix as you will be able to easily assure the child that you will still be able to take him to visit his current friends. If you are moving far away, this may be a little bit more difficult, but with today’s technology, it is easier than ever to stay connected from long distances.
Whereas in the past long distance phone calls were incredibly expensive, today you can talk to anybody anywhere in the country via cellphone and do it at an affordable rate. There is also texting and all kinds of social media apps like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat which can keep kids who move stay connected to their old friends.
Even better, with the advent of video chatting, services like Skype and Tango allow you to see the face of the person you are chatting with during the conversation, making it feel as if that person is in the room with you. That kind of video technology can be especially helpful in keeping your child connected to his existing friends and allowing him to feel like his entire life is not being thrown into a frenzy.
Make them a part of the moving process
There are few things a child likes more than getting to feel like he is an adult doing grownup things, so do your best to include him or her in many of the projects related to the move. I found this great packing tips guide which should help too. Have the child label and help pack boxes, assist with cleanup and organisation in the house, and if old enough, you can even let him help you decide on which moving company you are going to use to carry out the move. Once you get to the new house, you can have them help you there as well. Allow the child to help you unpack boxes and organise at the new house as though it is a family adventure that you can do together as a bonding exercise. What should be in each room? What colour should the walls and floors be? Should the house have carpeting and wallpaper or would it look better with bare floors and walls?
Obviously, depending on how old the child is, you will not want to leave all of the important decorating and style decisions to his/her judgement, but there is nothing wrong with using her as a sounding board for ideas. By doing that, you will make your child feel included in the moving-in process while allowing a sense of ownership as well.