So, you’ve decided to relocate. Congratulations! As exciting as this can be, moving can also be very stressful (for all people in the family). But for kids, relocating can be more stressful—mainly because the change can feel unexpected and trigger loss of normalcy (of friends, social life, school, etc.)—that adults don’t always experience in the same way.
To help prepare your child for a big move, here are a few tips:
1. Be Honest & Open With Your Child
Although you may be tempted to hide the news of a move from your child, keeping the truth from them can make them feel anxious or distrustful of you (even if you aren’t intending to come off this way). It’s best, as soon as you know and have finalized your decision, to prepare your child for a big move by cluing him/her on to what’s happening. This way, they can start to mentally prepare and/or ask questions about what will change, how, why, and when.
2. Give Your Child Space to Share His/Her Emotions
We empower our children when we listen to them. Beyond simply telling your child what’s going on and why, create space for him/her to share a voice, too. Undoubtedly, your child will have emotions about moving: changing of schools and routines, loss of friends, and the pressure of adapting to a new timeline.
Let your child voice his/her concerns and be sure to give him/her eye contact and your full attention. This will let him/her know that you hear them, you care, and even if it doesn’t change your perspective or final decision, there are considerations made on your part to hear them out.
3. Build New, Exciting Experiences
Positive experiences can attach us to certain places. As such, try to support your child building new memories in the place you’ll be moving to. Whether that means visiting parks and recreation centers, eating at restaurants, or walking through the new school, help your child feel as if his/her new home is a bit more familiar. This will help to build new, exciting experiences before the official move!
4. Empower Your Child In His/Her Decision-Making
You can’t necessarily change your plans or bend to your child’s wishes, but you can empower him/her to make decisions around the move. For example, your child can help to redesign the new bedroom, weigh in on the first few days’ schedule, or even get to choose restaurant stops/spots on the drive or on move-in day.
By allowing your child to have autonomy and a voice in decision-making, he/she will feel more connected to the family and the decision rather than an outsider.