How to reduce the trauma of moving
Nothing is more frightening to a child than the unknown. That’s why "moving away" can be a scary thought. With your help, moving can be turned into an adventure. And if your child’s attitude is one of eager anticipation rather than fear, relocating will be much easier for you too.
- Explain the ABC’s of moving. One of the best ways to overcome children’s fears of open communication from the start. Young children have no idea what it means to move. It’s helpful to take them on a visual tour of the new area. When you break the news, have on hand maps, brochures, and information about the new are. Tell them about recreation areas, places of interest, schools, etc. If possible bring children along on the house- hunting trip so they know what to expect.
- Stay upbeat. Children tend to mirror their parent’s emotions. Make sure you schedule family time so that the kids don’t feel forgotten during this busy time. Listen carefully to their concerns and respond honestly.
- Involve them in planning and packing their stuff. To a small child, the world is made up of possessions. Assure children that most of their world is moving, too. Have children pack as much of their own stuff as possible. Give them special boxes to pack favorite things in. Label the boxes, "Jamie’s stuff." Remind them: when the family gets to the new home, all their things in boxes will go right into their new rooms.
- Saying Goodbye. Children, like adults, need closure. Help them prepare by creating a memory book. Take pictures of friends, favorite places and family members in favorite rooms of your home. Also, together plan a going away party. Make cards with the address of the new home to hand out to friends at the party. Invite them to visit when they can. Reassure your children they will be able to call write and e-mail their friends.
- When you first get there. Set the children’s rooms up first. Make them feel at home with their "stuff". Try to keep their schedules as normal as possible for extra security. Help them find children in the neighborhood. Consider signing up for some activities to help them meet friends with common interests.