We all know that moving is frustrating for adults: finding a new home, packing and unpacking, settling in, finding your way around, and everything in between can be a total nightmare. So if letting go of the old and starting something new is hard for grown-ups, just think about how hard it must be for children.
The fear and stress of having to make such a huge life change can adversely affect a child’s mental well-being as well as their social and academic skills if parents don’t take the time to help their child make a smooth transition. Children are sensitive creatures that thrive on the comfort of a familiar routine. Moving and changing schools will force them out of their comfort zone, and they may not know how to handle all of the emotions they’re bound to feel throughout the process.
It is your job as a parent to be a source of familiarity and comfort during this time that holds a lot of unknowns, and it is important to continually reassure them that everything will get easier in time. Here are a few simple, yet effective, ways to help your child cope with the stress of moving.
Ask about their feelings
Your child may experience different emotions depending on where you are in the process of your move, and the way they feel before, during and after can change from one day to the next. Be sure to keep the conversation going, but try not to push them into talking to you if they don’t feel up to it. Let them know that while there is no wrong way to feel about the situation, you will be there to support them, and eventually, any anxiety they feel will turn into excitement.
Get them involved in the moving process
Talk to your child about the move beforehand and involve them in the process as much as possible throughout the whole journey. Ask for their input while you’re house hunting, take them on a tour of the new area where you’ll be living, and get their creative juices flowing by helping them plan how they’ll decorate their new room (and be sure to let them execute their vision when you move in!).
Be genuinely excited for your new adventure
It’s important for you to show your enthusiasm during the entire process, but it’s especially critical once you’ve actually made the move. If your child sees you excited about exploring your new neighborhood and town, they will want to follow your lead.
Create a stress-free environment at home
Help them embrace their fresh start at their new school
There is nothing easy about being the new kid, but if they enter with positivity and confidence, the transition will be smoother and quicker. The best way to help them jump in with the right attitude is to be prepared. Before they officially start at their new school — even if they’re starting in the middle of the year — take them on a tour of the grounds, navigate the hallways, review their schedule, and meet some of the teachers, faculty members, and students. This way, they won’t feel as lost once the first bell rings, and they’ll have a few friendly faces to welcome them on their first day.
Get them involved in their new community
The best way for your child to feel like they belong in your new community is for them to be an active part of it. Encourage them to get involved in school clubs or sports teams, introduce yourselves to your new neighbors, and visit attractions that are locally famous in your new city.
As you settle into your new home, it is important that you continue to communicate with your children rather than just assume they’re comfortable in their new surroundings. Ask them about the things that have changed since you moved into your new home:
● What are your new friends like?
● What’s your favorite thing about school?
● Do you like our new neighborhood?
● Are you happy here?
Be friendly and welcoming so your child will be open and honest with you about their feelings. If they seem to be struggling after a few weeks, it may be beneficial to seek the aid of a counselor to help with the process, but remember that transitioning flows at its own pace; just because your child is taking longer to adjust than you’d hoped doesn’t mean they won’t eventually. Be patient and loving with your child, and try to focus on the fact that you have made the right decision for your entire family by starting a fresh life somewhere new.
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