Moving and Relocating: Helping Your Child Cope
Moving to a new home can be stressful for both parents and children. Even if the move or relocation is for a positive reason, the transition to a new house and to a new school takes time and patience. Here are some parenting tips for moving with children, transitioning to a new school, and staying connected to friends.
Moving to a new home can be stressful for both parents and children. Even if the move or relocation is for a positive reason, the transition to a new house and to a new school takes time and patience. Here are some ways to ease the transition.
Tips for Moving with Children
It’s certainly easier to complete most tasks in the absence of children, but as tempting as it may be to send them off to a sitter or friend while dealing with the details of moving, reconsider. Children gain greater control over their fear and anxiety by directly participating in moving-related activities.
- Take your child with you to look at potential neighborhoods, houses or apartments, and schools.
- If your child can’t join you, take a camera or video recorder with you when you go to visit the area you are moving to. Take pictures of possible homes, the school, a local park, mall, “the cool spot,” or of anything that may interest your child.
- Share the packets of information you get from real estate agents or the Chamber of Commerce.
- Check out your new town online.
- Use a map to help your child understand the new area and the route you will take to get there.
- If possible, let your child visit the new home before moving day and point out where everyone will sleep, eat, and play.
- Have your children draw a picture of how they will arrange their new room.
- On moving day, let your child pack and label a box of his favorite things that he can open immediately upon arriving in your new home.
- If possible, set up your child's bedroom first so she will be surrounded by familiar things.
- Give your child a camera and have him document your move. Once you arrive and are settled in, make time together to create the "moving" chapter of your family photo album.
- Read children's books about moving. (Ask your local librarian or check out our favorite children's books about moving below.)
Helping Children Say Goodbye and Stay Connected to Friends after a Move
Sometimes we think that if we don’t make a big deal about moving neither will our children. But for children, a move involves leaving friends, schools, and favorite local hangouts behind. Helping your children say goodbye to friends and setting up ways to stay connected can help them begin to accept and deal with the changes in their lives.
- Host a goodbye party for friends and classmates. Emphasize how easy it is to keep in touch through mail, email, and the telephone.
- Give each of your children his or her own address book and make the party an opportunity for friends to record their personal contact information.
- Take photographs of “favorite places and people” and have each friend create a goodbye page to make a “Goodbye Memory Book.”
- Encourage your child to keep in touch with their old friends.
- Plan a trip back to the old hometown to visit friends.
Helping Kids Adjust to a Move
When we’re busy moving, overwhelmed with boxes and the details of setting up a new home, it’s hard to find time with our children. Maintaining a familiar routine and helping them transition from the first day will make settling in easier.
- If possible, time the move to happen before the start of a new school year or term so children have an opportunity to meet new friends before school begins.
- Contact teaches, coaches, and club advisors at the new school and ask them to assist your child with the transition.
- Ask the school if they have a buddy or new friend system to help guide your child through school for the first few weeks, introduce him or her to other students, and accompany him or her to activities.
- Ask the school to do a careful assessment of your child’s previous schoolwork to make sure your child is prepared academically for the new school.
- Have a picnic in the new home after you arrive.
- Remember to give your child hugs and say, "I love you." Your child may feel everything has changed but it can give your child a good feeling to know your love has not changed.
- Help your child find children to play with in the new neighborhood. New friends can make a place feel fun and they will probably go to school with children who live nearby.
- Get back to the status quo. When you are settled in your new home, resume familiar routines as soon as possible. Try to keep things such as mealtime, bedtime, and family time the same as much as possible.
Everyone in the family will get used to the move in his or her own way. Some children like the adventure of a new home right from the start. For other children, it can take longer. The good thing to remember about moving is that most children are pretty resilient and adapt well to a move within two or three months. Finally, don't take it personally if your children blame you for the difficulty of a move. No matter how well you've prepared them, expect them to be a little upset and allow them some time to adjust to the move. They will almost certainly grow to love their new home just as much as the old one.
Children's Books about Moving:
- Moving House, by Anne Civardi and Michelle Bates, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright
- We're Moving, by Heather Maisner, illustrated by Kristina Stephenson
- I'm Not Moving, Mama, by Nancy White Carlstrom, illustrated by Thor Wickstrom
- Big Ernie's New Home: A Story for Young Children Who Are Moving, by Teresa Martin and Whitney Martin
- Boomer's Big Day, by Constance McGeorge, illustrated by Mary Whyte
- The Moving Book: A Kid's Survival Guide, by Gabriel Davis, illustrated by Sue Dennen
- The Berenstain Bears' Moving Day, by Stan and Jan Berenstain
- Saying Good-bye, Saying Hello..., by Michaelene Mundy, illustrated by R.W. Alley