Because of the stresses, long list of responsibilities and fatigue that we, as parents, go through when planning for and going through a move, we can easily overlook what our children might be going through.
Here is a list of important things to consider to help make this transition as stress-free as possible for your school-aged children.
Social / Emotional Considerations
Any kind of change can be particularly scary to children, and it is normal for school-aged children to magnify in their minds anything that is even slightly fear-producing. Children are often impacted even more than their parents by a move — even though they may not express or overtly show their level of stress or worries on the outside.
Some of the worries and emotions your children could experience during a move include the following:
- A sense of insecurity and fear about making friends or being accepted or liked at the new school.
- Academic worries related to switching teachers and schools and encountering new curricula and standards.
- A sense of loss over leaving current friends, teachers and even their current home and neighborhood.
- Additional apprehension should the move be associated with life-changing events such as divorce, change-of-job for a parent and financial changes in the family.
- More often than adults, children will mask their fears, concerns, anxiety or even depression, sometimes because they themselves are not aware of their underlying emotions or do not want to burden their parents.
What can you do as a parent to help ensure that your children go through the move with as little stress as possible?
Be aware of just how much the move could be affecting your children and encourage them to talk about their feelings and concerns. Do this in a calm, nurturing environment. Maybe plan a “special” dinner with their favorite foods and lead a family discussion Share with them one of your concerns or worries.
But then you tell them how you worked all this out. This will give you the opportunity to draw out their feelings and then help them through their concerns. They will often be tremendously relieved.
You can make the move fun and give them a sense of control by allowing them to do some planning with you. For example, you can go online together to check out the location of the library closest to your new home, or the closest bicycle shop or specialty stores they like, or investigate the local parks with classes or sports they may want to enroll in. Then you can make a point of putting on your moving calendar a special time that you can go over with your children. If you let your children feel that they are a part of the moving process, they will also feel more a sense of excitement over the experience.
You can take them to the new house or show them pictures of the new house and invite them to participate in the decorating process. Ask them what color paint they would most like for their new bedroom. Offer to buy them a new comforter, and together make some exciting plans for what the new house, and their new bedroom, will look like.
Create additional moments of family bonding during the time of the move. As tired as the grown-ups might be, try to sneak in a family game night just before or after the move, go out to the movies, turn the moving boxes into a fort, or turn the packing process into some sort of game. It’s good for them to associate the moving process with something happy.
Be sure that you have done all the preparatory work necessary to ensure that your children make as seamless a transition into their new schools as possible. If appropriate, find out the summer reading or summer homework for the new school. Speak to your children’s current teachers to determine if there is any information that would be important to impart to your children’s new teachers about their strengths, needs or preferences.
Speak with the new school and, if possible, the new teachers to determine if your children will need to do any catch-up work so that they are on par with the other children. If necessary, provide them with whatever tutoring or help they need, so that they can be optimally successful and happy at the new school.
Do everything you can to ensure that your children will be able to make friends quickly. Look into enrolling them in local after school classes or leagues. Try to meet the parents of your children’s new classmates and set up after school play dates.