Moving can be traumatic for children if they aren’t prepared. Kids often fear the worst, especially when they have little or no involvement in making decisions and they’ve heard stories about other people’s negative experiences. Having some honest and straightforward conversations with your kids and encouraging them to ask questions and discuss their concerns can make the process as smooth as possible.
Give Your Kids as Much Information as You Can
Once you’ve made decisions and can provide firm answers to your kids’ questions, explain the move and the reasons for it. If you’ll need to move for a new job, make sure you have a firm employment offer in hand and at least a rough idea of when you’ll be moving.
If you’ve already chosen a house, tell your kids where it’s located. Take them there in person or show them pictures. Talk to your real estate agent and conduct online research to find out as much as you can about the new neighborhood and city and the schools your kids will attend. Focus on the positives, such as fun activities and being closer to family. Also discuss how they can keep in touch with friends online, on the phone, through visits, or a combination.
How to Prepare Young Kids
Keep your explanations about the reasons for the move and where you’re going simple and direct. If your young children are unfamiliar with the concept of moving, read books on the subject or act it out with toys and dolls.
Involve your children in the packing process. Let them decide which toys to pack first and which they’d like to keep close for security. Make sure your kids understand that toys that are being put in boxes are not being discarded.
If possible, keep your children’s bedroom furniture and layout the same as they were in the old house. Avoid other transitions, such as toilet training, around the same time as the move.
How to Help Teens Cope With Moving
Moving is often harder for teens because they’ve developed close friendships and possibly romantic relationships. They may also be involved in extracurricular activities and have jobs. You can frame the move as an opportunity to prepare for future changes, such as going to college or moving for a job, but your teen may express feelings of anger and resentment that could take time to subside.
Talk to Your Kids Openly and Honestly
Moving may be for the best, but it can still be hard for kids to process. Be as forthcoming and direct as you can with them so they won’t feel scared and overwhelmed. The more details you provide, the less their imaginations will have to fill in the blanks.