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Moving with Children: Keep Them Informed to Keep You Sane

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By : M Shane    99 or more times read
If you've just purchased a new home, congratulations are in order. This is an exciting and happy time for the whole family--that is until the reality of the move sets in and everyone gets a little (or a lot) on edge. While moving is overwhelming for even the most organized adults, children can find relocation upsetting as well. Moving will disrupt their physical surroundings, routines, relationships, and their emotional states. To make the transition easier on everyone, you need to give your kids as much information as possible—as soon as possible. The longer they have to digest the news, the more palatable the idea of moving will be.

Being kept in the dark (both literally and figuratively) is one of the most stress-inducing states to be in. You yourself likely did a great deal of research before deciding which house to buy, and which neighborhood to buy in. Relocating is a major decision, one that you wouldn't want to make without having all the facts. This need for information is the same for children. The less they know about their future residence, the more anxiety and fear they'll feel.

To start off your move on the right foot, be honest and up front with your children about where and why you're moving. Give them plenty of time to adjust to the thought of leaving their old home, friends, and neighborhood. Teenagers especially will require time to get over the shock of your announcement, to grieve, to say goodbye, and to accept the fact that they're moving. Teens are in the process of learning how to develop long term, complex relationships, so their friendships mean literally everything to them. They will likely be resentful and angry if you wait till the last minute to announce your move, so do yourself a favor and tell them as early as possible.

Younger children won't be as affected as older ones in terms of grieving the loss of their friends. In fact, you may have to explain to them a couple of times that their friends won't be moving with them. They may simply be too young to grasp the reality of the situation. What they will be affected by is their fear regarding a new school and neighborhood. To make the transition easier on your school-age children, take them to visit the new house and to check out the neighborhood. Show them where libraries, playgrounds, and shopping malls are so they have a visual map of their future community. Let them pick their bedroom so they can start to mentally plan how to decorate it. This will give them some sense of control in an otherwise chaotic seeming situation.

Taking your child to visit their new school is perhaps one of the most helpful things you can do to ease your child's fears. Many school-age children are scared that they'll get lost in their new school or that their teacher will be mean to them. Take your child on a tour of the school, showing them where their classrooms are and where all the bathrooms are located. If possible, introduce them to their teacher so that they have a familiar face to look for in an otherwise alien environment. Just getting a feel for where things are like the bus stop and the playground can do wonders to ease their worry. Try to go to the school when there aren't any classes in session, as it can be unnerving to have all the students' eyes on the new kid.

Before your move, it's also a good idea to research social groups and activities that your child is interested in. If you sign them up prior to the move, your child will be part of an instant social circle. They'll have connections in the community, and they'll also be comforted by knowing that they can continue their favorite pastime in their new community.

For teens, it's also helpful for them to explore their new neighborhood. They'll want to know as much as possible so they can be independent and feel part of the community. Help them research things like bus routes, mall hours, and other things that they'll want to know about before the move. This will make it easier for them to visually rehearse their new life, and get excited about new opportunities the community can provide.

Knowledge is the key to finding the best house for you and your family. Knowledge can also help assuage fears and anxieties that your children and teens may feel when they're facing a move. Be patient and listen to their concerns, and soon they'll adapt to their new surroundings. Remember to be honest from the get-go and the move will be much easier for everyone in the family.

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