Moving a long distance from home can be a stressful time for the whole family, especially children. Parents or caregivers need to be mindful of this and create positives with everything associated with the move.
How are our children going to cope adjusting to another neighbourhood is not the first question that comes to mind, however moving and changing homes, schools, and friends can all be difficult, with children often finding it hard to cope with the myriad of emotions they feel.
Some children may embrace moving as an opportunity to make new friends, whilst others may experience anxiety and find it difficult to adjust in their new surroundings.
For many, giving up friends, places, and routines can be a difficult change. As parents focus their energy on arranging the move, children may feel neglected and react negatively to the transition. If the move resulted from a major disruption such as divorce or death than these emotions will most certainly be intensified.
How can I help My Child during the transition?
Some tips for parents include:
Involve children in the decision - making process.
If children sense that their input is valued, they will contribute to family discussions regarding the impact of the move. Ask for feedback and acknowledge what is the important factors concerning them regarding the move. Paint a positive picture and make the experience an adventure.
Involve children in the move as early and as much as possible.
Responsibilities can help children have a sense of control over their situation. For instance, younger children might be allowed to select which bedrooms they would prefer, what new items they would like in their rooms whilst older children may actively be involved in researching the area for a suitable home, school, etc.
Whilst adjusting to their new environment, parents can provide reassurance by sticking to the old routines. For instance, morning and bedtime routines, and the same meal times might help ease the moving experience, especially for younger children.
Be patient with children.
Children may resist and as a result not like their new school, neighbourhoods, or home even though the parents have made every effort to ensure a smooth transition. When this occurs do not become frustrated or angry. Instead empathise with your children and encourage them to talk about their anxieties and provide reassurance. Let them know them that what they are feeling is normal. As with everything it may take some time to adjust to your new environment.
Help children make new friends and enrol in orientation programs offered by schools.
Enquire and get involved in social activities such as camps, after school programs, and neighbourhood clubs. This is an excellent way for children to make new friends. Also, adults can use these activities to meet other parents in the neighbourhood.
Keep an eye out for warning signs of children not adjusting well.
Anxiety, depression, significant disruptions in sleep, and falling school grades may be a sign that children need professional mental health services to help them adjust to their new environment.