Helping Children Adjust to a New Home
Moving Can Be Stressful
People move for many reasons. A new job, marriage, divorce, or just a desire for a change of scenery are a few of those reasons. Then there are military families, for whom moving is a necessary part of life. We’ve worked with many families buying and selling homes in the Eagle River and Anchorage, Alaska area. We’ve seen firsthand how stressful moving can be for children, as much as for the parents. If your family is planning to relocate, here are some tips to help turn moving into a positive experience, especially helping children adjust to moving.
Take a tour
If possible, take your children to visit where you’re moving ahead of time. Check out the local restaurants. Find the best places to get an ice cream cone. Drive by the schools, parks, malls or other places your kids would be interested in. This will help dissipate some of the fear of the unknown that children often have.
Find something fun or exciting to focus on
Children tend to think about the negatives that can happen when they move. Loss of friends, scary new school,and no more favorite ice cream spot. But if you find something positive about the move that you can share with them, you can change their focus and give them something to look forward to. For example, maybe they will have their own room for the first time. Or you can plan for exciting new activities or places they would like to try like swimming at the beach or snow skiing in the mountains.
Give them a sense of control
Moving can give children a sense of anxiety as they feel like they have no control in what’s going on in their life. Combat this by giving children the chance to make decisions that affect them. For instance, what color would they like to have their room painted? Or how do they want to arrange the furniture? For an extra dose of stability and comfort, make it a priority to set up the kids’ rooms before the rest of the house. Children will handle a move better when they feel included and have a small sense of control in the middle of so much chaos. Once you’ve got their rooms set up, keep the momentum going by letting them take control of organizing the pantry, unpacking books and putting them on bookshelves, or other small tasks that will give them a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Make packing fun
Here’s a fun idea. Give each child their own special box and let them pack what they feel are the essentials that they need right away in their new home. This will help them feel like a valuable part of the move, give them a sense of independence as they decide what’s essential, and a feeling of excitement when they can unpack it at the new home. Some ideas include non-perishable snacks, games, pillows, stuffed animals, photos, books, toiletry items, favorite clothing and other comfort items.
Take a break
Moving can get chaotic, and children can get lost in the shuffle. Make sure you take a break once in a while to give your children the attention they need. Put aside your unpacking and take time to talk or snuggle, make an ice cream run, or jump on bikes or walk for a quick stretch and exercise session. In the long run, these little breaks will be good for grown-ups too and help you all deal with the stress a little bit better.
Moving can be an emotional and physical challenge for everyone involved. Just remember that with patience, sensitivity, and a little bit of fun, you can make moving a positive experience. Afterall, helping children adjust to moving is beneficial for the whole family.