We spoke with Tracy Martin-Turgeon of The Children’s Workshop for the following advice on preparing your children for a move:
Preparing children for any change can be difficult. It could be a move, a new school, a new baby, or even going away. You want to talk to your child and walk them through the process. In spite of this, your child will go through some significant changes. Here are some tips to help you through this process:Practice and talk about the transition:
Children love structure and thrive on knowing what will happen next. So it is only natural to know the surroundings that you will be going to. Pick out places that they will recognize along the way. You want to look at places that will interest your child, maybe there is a favorite place your child likes to eat at or a neat playground. Talk about these places and when you are passing them your child can easily pick them out. This will make them feel more connected.
- Speak to your child’s current school. Ask if they can make a scrap book for him/her to take with them? See if you can make a contact list of friends to keep in touch with in the new house or school.
- Speak with the new school principal or director. What do they do to get children acclimated in the new school? Do they have a buddy system?
- See if you can speak with other parents or join a parent group.
- Plan a day where your child can visit the school. Whether your child is 4, 8, or 15 being familiar with their surroundings will only help with the transition.
It is important to let your child express his/her feelings:
Give your child/ children enough time and talk to them about moving. Let them talk about how they are feeling, what they are worried about, and give them reassurance about the move. Give them time to process. Let them know you will try to make this change/move as easy as possible. If your child is old enough to express their concerns validate them and listen. Plan time to check in. If you are over whelmed, children can sense this and tend to get anxious too! Taking time and breaks will not only help your child but you as well. Let your child be involved:
Let your child be involved in the move and get them excited about the move. Maybe they can pick which bedroom is theirs, or if not an option may be to let them pick out the paint color etc. Let them help pack up some things for the new house. Get them excited about the move. If it is a minor move like a bus change, see if you can meet the bus driver or ask if there is anyone on the bus that is in her grade? Can they buddy up? Make sure you are including your child is details as much as they will understand. This will make them feel part of the process. If your child in middle school or high school, point it out if you are close to the movie theater or the basketball park. If they are going to have a bigger bedroom or more places to ride their bike, this may help them get excited too.Keeping things as normal as possible:
Try to keep play dates or extra curricula activities going, such as dance or gymnastic class, karate and so on. Keeping some normal parts of the day to day helps makes the process a little bit easier. Keeping bed time routines and dinner together is good also. Children are resilient, they bounce back quicker than we expect. Some may take a little longer than others.Change:
Some children don’t mind change. They adapt to it with little or no fuss and move on, while others have a difficult time. You want to make sure either way you are including your child/children in the process of any major change. If more resources are needed reach out to your child’s doctor or the school for resources. Read books to your children about moving, or if they are old enough let them read and ask you questions. If you help make the process as easy as possible for your children, it will only make the process for you all that much better.
Resources: Parenting, Healthy Children, Raising children