Helping Kids Cope with Moving
The Effects of Moving on Children, as Well as What You Can do to Help Them, Aren’t Always Clear
You might be prepared for some crying, whining or door slamming when you tell your kids that because the family has to relocate they’ll have to say goodbye to their bedroom, their school and their friends. But you can’t handle the effects of moving on kids the same way you usually calm them down: with their favorite blanket and a popsicle. For adults, moving is mostly a logistical challenge but for children it can be major emotional transition.
Making that transition can take months. “Moving is a real trauma for families,” says Sue Miller, author of But Mom, I Don’t Want to Move and After the Boxes are Unpacked , “even in good moves”. Your kids may not seem outwardly traumatized, but inside they may be wrestling with big issues. With all the hubbub that comes with relocating, even when your kids do let you know what’s bothering them, it can be hard to know exactly how to go about helping them cope with moving.
Luckily, once you step back and get to know what they’re dealing with, helping children with the transition of moving isn’t that hard. Below are some of the most important tips for parents relocating with kids in tow:
There are a lot of little tricks and tools you can use to mitigate the effects of moving on children, though there’s really only one big thing: pay attention. Miller, who has moved 14 times in her career, points out that it isn’t as easy at it sounds. “I got so busy with the task of moving, I was so wrapped up in packing and coordinating – as many parents are,” she says, “that I really pushed aside my kids and their feelings.” Without a parent’s interest, kids have to deal with their problems alone, which can end up compounding their anxieties.
When explaining the move to younger children, it can help to reiterate a few things adults take for granted: make sure they understand that even though they’re moving they’ll still have mommy and daddy, their siblings, the family pet and all their things.
Communication is vital.
Remember to talk to your kids about the relocation on an ongoing basis, not just once. Give them the space to express themselves and try not to assume you already know what they’re feeling. Moving affects every child differently.