Children should feel at home in, well, their home. But what about when this home changes? And what about their life, their friends? Moving strips away everything they’ve known and become familiar with. No matter what you do, it’ll be a change, and they will have to cope.
But there are a few things you as a parent can do to try and make the process a bit easier.
Don’t force it, but try to make at least some aspects of this life changing move fun for your kids. This seems like a no- brainer, but it isn’t. Moving is a headache. There is so much to do, complicated steps to take and about a million things to remember. It’s hard to make time for fun, but I’m telling you now, you need to.
Don’t be afraid to accept help in this area. People can be really sweet when you want to move, offering to help you pack or load. Instead, let them watch your kids for a day. Take them to the park, do something fun and memorable -- let them have their play time without having to do it in the middle of the big move.
At the same time, don’t push them away. You know this. For a successful move, try to include the children in any event you can; it should be a family activity. You need each other to get through this, as you are stripped of your old community and life, and thrust into a brand new one.
According to Dr. Sharon Galor, emotional expression (with people who care about you), at least for adults, is necessary for a well- rounded picture of mental health. This is simple enough. When we share our emotional troubles with people who care (genuinely care, as you do about your children), they will want to be supportive and help you with your specific problems.
Society, she says, dictates what we are allowed to reveal and what we are not allowed to reveal. As children, we do not know very well what these rules are, and when we should or should not speak up. Children don’t know quite how to deal with complex emotions, but you can help. Allow, even encourage, them to express their feelings regarding the move. Be supportive; listen; and offer yourself to them. This can not only help them feel better, but establish a stronger bond within the family.
By letting them know that their feelings - nervousness, sadness, fear, excitement -- regarding the move are normal, you are telling them that it’s okay to feel that way.
It’s okay to feel bad and it’s equally okay to express how they feel. It might not make the negative emotions dissipate, but it allows your children to gain better understanding of themselves.
Especially with a first move, it seems daunting to place yourself into a totally new area and community. All the things that you were used to will be gone from your life. Chances are, however, that your children will see that the community is incredibly similar to yours. For smaller cities, it’ll have commercial part and an old part; it’ll have parks, churches, libraries; cheap houses and upscale ones; etc. Even in different states, the basic layout of a city is the same.
Take your children to the place you’re moving. Let them see that it’s really not that different; try to find places that will be fun to experience as a family. As well, consider injecting yourself directly into the community, by actively participating, and welcome them to do the same.
Our well-being depends partly on feeling like we belong. When we move, that is stripped away from us. The bed by the wall we’ve slept in for the first eight years of our life is gone. But it doesn’t have to be all bad; make a fun time of choosing rooms and decorating. Allow each child to find one room and make it their own. As you move in, so will they.
Let her/ him find a space - whether it’s a bedroom or somewhere else, like a niche or porch swing -- that she/ he feels is her own “special” place, where she can retreat and feel comfortable. It’s a basic animal need to desire this.
Yes, you are moving. No, you won’t be seeing Amy every day at lunch. But that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to her ever again, or ever see her.
There is nothing wrong with keeping in touch with the past; in fact, we encourage it, especially for children! It can help to soften the blow of moving. Encourage your children to call, write, invite, and visit old friends when they can, and as they desire. As well, don’t force this; but remind them that their friends are probably missing them, too.
Although we know that ANY stressor can be the tipping point for a mood (or psychotic) disorder predisposed mind, and that we sometimes too often blame childhood trauma for psychological disturbances later in life, significant research has shown that moving often can increase a child’s risk of developing issues later on in life. Risk of mental health problems can raise as much as twenty percent just from one move, a study presented by the Huffpost claims.
Although, the biggest stressor seems to be the cause of the move - which is hard for children to separate from the move itself - than the actual event. If family issues or hard times are the reason for a sudden change, potentiality of mental health issues are increased even more.
Children who have experienced multiple moves (including those having to do with military families) are also more likely to experience issues in childhood, including psychiatric- based trips to the emergency room. Additionally, teens seem to experience more severe affects from moving.
Although you may not be able to prevent a move, it’s important for your child’s well-being that you do what you can to make the move smooth and stress - free (or, as stress free as possible).