Summer is usually the busiest time of the year for family relocations, an event that’s bound to bring high levels of stress for your children.
For children, moving can mean a real sense of loss related to friends and all the familiar places being left, as well as a great deal of anxiety about the unknowns of that new home.
You can start minimizing such issues by explaining why you’re moving. Simply repeating that they’ll “love the new house” won’t mean much, but explaining that the move will mean being closer to family or giving you a great new job helps them understand why this is happening.
You also want to acknowledge your child’s feelings of loss. They can include the loss of “best friends” (a major issue for most youngsters), sports and teams they’ve grown accustomed to, or the end of a teen’s romantic relationship. While you want to reassure your children that there will be new friends and activities to discover, you also want them to know you understand their feelings and you care about the loss they’re experiencing. Expect a lot of tears and plan on giving lots of hugs and reassurance.
A little pre- and post-move planning can also make things easier. Start by sharing information about the new town so it isn’t all a great unknown. Chamber of commerce brochures, pictures of your new house, and a town map with your house as well as schools, parks, malls and movie theaters all marked can help kids feel less anxious about what is coming.
At the new house, first open boxes you specially marked when packing that contain some of your children’s favorite things. Having familiar posters, photos and toys in their new rooms will make them feel at home faster.
A new pet for the new house can also be a great distraction with a real settling effect, even if it’s just a goldfish.
Making unpacking low stress also helps. Keeping yourself and your children relaxed and enjoying the new experience is more important than how quickly boxes are emptied. Take time with the kids to explore your new neighborhood, to go by the new school and to locate things to make life enjoyable (where is the pizza joint and ice cream shop?).
Moving to a new home is never easy, but with a little planning, understanding and support you can make it a much less stressful experience for your children.
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