Moving can be exciting.
It also can be very stressful. There are upheavals, physical work,
and sad separations for the whole family. As parents pack up toys,
photographs, and clothes, they often feel nostalgic. As a child says
good-bye to his room, his favorite play spots, and his friends, he
may wonder what his life will be like.
The success of a move depends on the circumstances involved.
Families moving because of divorce, unexpected job transfer, job
loss, illness, or death face pressures and burdens not shared by
those moving wider happier circumstances. A family moving to a
familiar neighborhood will have an easier time than one going to a
strange city or state.
Parents’ attitudes greatly influence the success of a move, since a
child will often adopt their viewpoints as his own. If they’re
cheerful about going to a new home, he’ll accept inevitable changes
more easily than if they’re nervous and upset.
His move will go most smoothly if he doesn’t have to change schools.
If he can spend his school hours with familiar teachers and friends,
he can concentrate on the nice things about his new home: his
bedroom, a nearby park, a bike trail. Some parents who make a
mid-school-term move to a nearby community let their child finish
the year in his old school. That way, he can be comfortable in class
while meeting new neighborhood children.
Because parents get caught up in the physical demands of moving,
they often don’t take time to reassure and support their child. They
may believe all kids are resilient and have an easy time adjusting:
“Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.” “You’ll make lots of new friends.”
“Second grade is the same no matter where you go.” Yet, leaving
familiar surroundings can upset any child.
The best way parents can help their child is by listening to him
talk about the move. If he can express his fears, anger, and
sadness, he’ll feel better. If he believes his negative feelings are
unacceptable, he’ll hide them and express his anxiety in other ways.
He may lose his appetite, act moody and sensitive, whine, cry
frequently, or fight more with his siblings.
Encourage him to talk about moving Ask questions: “What’s the best
part about moving? What don’t you like?” “What can I do to make this
easier for you?” Show that you understand his feelings: “I know it’s
hard to leave our house. You’ll really miss your friends, won’t
you?” Talk about the separations he’ll experience. He may be upset
about leaving grandparents, cousins, a baby-sitter, or teacher. Let
him know he can stay in contact with people who are special to him.
Before you pack, take photographs or videos of each room in your
house, and ask your child if he’d like to be in those pictures. Help
him plan a farewell with his friends. He may want children over for
a party or outdoor snacks and games. He may decide to make cards for
friends or offer them a treasure from his room.
He may want to help with the packing, or he may want nothing to do
with the process. You shouldn’t insist on his help. As you pack his
belongings, don’t get rid of his things without asking him. He may
still feel attached to playthings he’s outgrown and, if the move is
difficult for him, he may not want to part with any possessions:
“I’m keeping everything!” If he feels this way, put all the items
you’d like to discard in a box, take them to the new house, and,
after he has adjusted, ask which ones he’d like to keep.
Immediately after the move, resume important family rituals like
bedtime stories, evening snacks, and breakfast with the whole
family. Show him his new school and set up an appointment to visit
the princi pal and tour the building. Enroll him in after-school
activities or sports where he’ll meet new kids while doing things he
enjoys. And remember, in the midst of unpacking, he needs extra
time, reassurance, and love.