Published October 20, 2012
Moving can be a stressful for adults, and that stress level can skyrocket if the whole family isn’t on board. How do you get buy-in from kids who are being forced to leave their schools, sports teams, friends and family? Chances are, there will be tears along the way, but these tips may help ease the shock and make the experience a positive one for the whole gang:
Share the news in a timely fashion
The more time they have to think about and prepare for the move, the easier it will be for them. Plus, the absolute worst thing that could happen is to have your children inadvertently hear about the move from a teacher or a friend’s parent. When you first talk about the move, make sure you allow plenty of time for the conversation: It’s likely your children will have lots of questions.
Provide accurate information
Do your homework ahead of time so you can tell your children as much as possible about the city or area to which you’re moving. Have photos ready to show them, know everything you can about the schools they’ll be attending (if your son lives to play football, for example, you better know the record of his new team). The more information you can provide -- in a positive manner -- the less anxious your children will feel about the move.
Your kids may be excited about the move, or they may feel sad. Either way, you need to hear them out and help them work through their feelings.
If at all possible, sit down together and create a family wish list for your new home. Teens may want a game room. A young child may want to live near a park. Don’t make promises but, rather, let family members know their desires will be considered as you search for a new home. Becoming part of the search may help turn anxiety into excitement.
Don’t share too much
This is especially true if you need to move because of financial hardship. Knowing too many details about the family’s finances could just add to a child’s anxiety.
Get them excited about the move
Older kids may be able to help with online searches for information about houses, schools, nearby dog parks and more. Ask the kids to pack and label their own boxes. Empower them to make decisions about how their new bedrooms will be decorated.
Propose stay-in-touch strategies
Social media, email and letters are all good ways for children to stay connected with friends after the move. Help your children gather contact information for school friends and team mates. Don’t promise trips back to visit if you really don’t plan to facilitate them.
Don’t downplay good-byes
Talk with your children about how they’d like to say good-bye to their closest friends. Do they want to invite a bunch of friends to a party? Would they rather host one last sleepover with a best friend? Would they like to create a scrapbook their friends can sign? Let your children know that you appreciate the impact this move will have on them and you want their good-byes to be meaningful.
Make time for post-move adventures
Yes, there will be boxes to unpack and pictures to hang, but it’s important for your family to investigate and explore your new neighborhood and city together. Make it a goal to discover at least one fun, interesting thing to do each week.