In general, moving homes can be a very stressful experience, especially to a new location. And while adults have a hard time with the stress of it all, this time of transition can be particularly difficult for children, of all ages. Children are often left not understanding the need to move or leave their friends and their sense of familiarity behind.
Without the proper guidance, children can feel lost and displaced from all the comforts they have ever known.
Several weeks back, I was approached by the Toronto Brokerage Firm, TheRedPin, and asked for my advice on how to make moving a smooth and successful experience for children. While there are definite differences in how to help children across the ages, there is one tip which applies across the board – children need to feel empowered and in control. And if we allow children to be part of the moving process instead of merely immersing them in it without any input from them, the outcome is sure to be that much more successful.
5 Tips to Help Make Moving Easier For Children:
1. Visit the Neighborhood.
Parents should always provide as much of a ‘visual’ as they can for children of any age. They can ‘map’ out the neighbourhood. They could explain where the recreation centres are, the parks, their favourite ice cream store. Whatever they do, they could make sure they appeal to the cognitive levels of their children so as to insure that their emotional needs are being met.
2. Visit the Home.
Whenever possible, if the new home is nearby or vacant, parents and their children could make frequent trips to the new home. Children could even be encouraged to bring over their ‘stuff’; toys and games for younger children, posters and paraphernalia for older children. This process will help acclimate children to their new home by making it ‘theirs’ a little bit at a time.
3. Limit Life Changes.
Too many changes at once can be stressful for children. Parents should try to avoid making too many major ‘life changes’ at the same time. For instance, if a move is imminent, parents should avoid altering their child’s nap schedule, changing their caregivers, or even start potty training. All of these changes in routine are disruptive under the best of circumstances. But when a move is thrown into the mix, they can all become too overwhelming and are best left until after the child is settled.
As much as possible, parents can help their children transition by keeping their new room as similar as possible to their old home. Can the furniture be set up in the same way? If for whatever reason this is not feasible, parents can engage their child’s help in choosing new furniture, new toys, new bedding, or a new color scheme. Again, their input will help get them excited and motivated for the move especially if they feel that their input is valuable.
5. Timing The Move.
If it is realistic, I would also encourage all parents to move into their new move during a school break, ideally at the end of the academic year. For all children, but especially for older children (tweens and teens) summertime is a time of transition anyway…finishing one grade, and moving on to the next. Children are more adaptable to new situations, such as home and school settings, if they can be eased into them during times which are less disruptive to their regular routines.
Moving does not have to be a complete nightmare. With proper notice and input from our children, moving could also be a time of excitement and empowerment for our children.
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