A move is somewhat disruptive for all family members, whether it's local moving or cross-country moving. Sometimes the littlest members of the family might get lost in the shuffle of activity as a move approaches. Here are suggestions for ways you can help your child handle the challenges of a family move.
Accent the Positive
With a move, each family member probably experiences some positive and negative feelings. Focus on the positive aspects as much as possible. Talk about the good things you're looking forward to in the new home and new community. Children pick up on the emotions and feelings of the adults around them, so avoid talking too much about any negative feelings you are experiencing. Stress the adventure and excitement of going to a new place.
Acknowledge the Sad Feelings
There will be sad moments and sad feelings as the move approaches. It's okay to talk about feeling sad or letting your child acknowledge that they will really miss their friends. Just don't let the sad emotions overwhelm all your conversations and activities. Continue to turn the conversations back toward the positive aspects of the move.
Take a Sneak Peek
If it's possible, plan a visit to the new community ahead of the actual move. Take your child to visit the school he or she will attend. Visit the house or apartment where you'll be living. Do a little research about the new community – if there's a museum, a fun restaurant, or a park where you might drop by for a family visit while you're in town, plan a stop. The unknown can be scary, and a visit ahead of the move can help relieve some of the fear or uncertainty. If distance prevents a visit ahead of the move, then use the internet (Google Maps allows you to "see" many locations) to learn about the new community. Get a paper map of the community and pick out important landmarks (house, school, grocery store, theater, parks) to help the child feel more comfortable with the area.
Remember the Old Friends
Saying good-bye is hard for family members of all ages. Throw a farewell party for your child and his or her friends. Snap photos of your child with the friends to keep as a good memory once you've moved. Provide a poster board or T-shirt and invite all their friends to "autograph" the item, as a keepsake for your child. Depending on your child's age, you might help your child record the mail addresses or email addresses for your child's friends, so he or she will have a way to stay in touch.
Get Involved with the New Community
Once you've arrived in the new community, get involved. Explore the neighborhood – take walks and meet people. Venture out in the town or city, discovering new activities. Sign up for lessons or teams or clubs, depending on your child's interests. Encourage your child to make new friends at school, talking about what it takes to make friends and be a good friend to others.
If you need help moving, go to sites of local movers for more information.