How to Help Children Adjust When You Relocate

Although children thrive on routine, they also tend to be extremely adaptable. So while many parents are concerned about the effect that moving will have on kids, the truth is that in most cases they will bounce right back, especially with a little help. Of course, this isn’t always easy. Young children may not understand what’s happening, while older kids and teens will likely be upset about losing familiar surroundings as well as friends. And parents wrapped up in the logistics of the move; from packing and hiring movers to switching utility providers, to ensuring that a change of address has gone through, and more; may not have the time and energy to devote to calming their kids. But whether you’re relocating to a new house or you’re moving to a new city, state, or country, it’s important that you try to prepare kids for what’s to come and let them know that everything will be fine if you want them to help them adjust during this difficult transition. And here are just a few tips that should make things run a little more smoothly.

The first thing to consider is that your children have not gone through a move before. For you and your spouse, pulling up stakes and relocating may be old hat, but for kids it can be a frightening experience, especially if nobody explains what’s happening. Can you imagine being plucked out of the only home you know, torn away from family and friends that have formed your lifelong support network, and then being thrust into an entirely new existence without any explanation? It’s distressing to say the least. So it’s only natural that children would act out on their fear and anxiety with tantrums, or worse, withdrawal. Luckily, this scenario can often be easily avoided by simply taking the time to sit down with kids and talk it out.

You should start by getting the whole family together for a powwow. You can talk to the kids about why you’re moving in the first place, lay out a plan that details every step of the relocation process, and then reassure them that they will have all kinds of new opportunities in your new home, including brand new bedrooms and the chance to form new friendships. You might also want to include options that allow them to stay in contact with their old friends, potentially including trips to their old stomping grounds to visit family and friends left behind. In addition, you should encourage your kids to ask questions and voice their concerns so that everyone can get their fears out on the table to be addressed.

Whether you’re moving for a job or you’ve elected to find one of the safest places to live while you raise your family, it’s important to make sure that your children understand why they’re being uprooted and give them the opportunity to voice their concerns as a member of the family. You may not be able (or willing) to take their suggestions into account during the move (especially if what they really want is to stay put), but you can definitely listen and make sure they feel comfortable discussing their fears and frustrations throughout the moving process. This, along with imparting information about the move, should help them to adjust and accept the situation more quickly. Perhaps you can even turn relocation into a fun adventure instead of a frightening departure from all things familiar.