by: Michael Kabel
Here's one of the bigger challenges facing parents: moving from one house to another.
Most growing families, especially those experiencing the blessing of growing prosperity, will likely move to better or bigger housing, either for greater comfort or due to transfer due to their parents' employment. Others will relocate to different towns and states, sometimes thousands of miles from their previous locale.
Moving often challenges the child's development.
Moving changes a child's life at times that they may crave stability most. The readjustment can have drastic influences on sense of self, self-confidence, and the learning process of socializing with others. Moreover, children often fear the unknown as an abstract - and a new town, neighborhood, or community is often nothing if not unknown.
As a rule of thumb, older children have more difficulty adjusting to new situations and locales. Children just starting kindergarten and grade school also struggle, since they are sometimes in the process or learning to function outside of their parent's constant presence.
If a child is in their last year of high school, experts also suggest letting them stay with a trusted friend or family member until the year concludes.
Parents' attitude sets the tone for children.
Experts recommend parents remain positive at all times leading up to the move. Children adopt their parents' perspectives as a matter of course, and will look to them when deciding their own emotional framework regarding the upcoming changes.
Another important component is honesty. Parents need to be frank and direct in answering the child's questions, neither sugar-coating or downplaying the move's advantages and realities.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent psychology recommends the following for preparing a child for a move:
- Clearly explain why the move is necessary
- Show the children as much information – including pictures and maps, and brochures – about the new living area.
- Describe all advantages in enthusiastic detail.
Making children a part of the move empowers them to confront the emotional changes.
Drawing children into the moving process allows them to feel as if they have a part in the greater goal of a successful move. Put simply, for children it's the difference between something happening to them and something happening with their help.
Parents can also draw up a timetable that allows children to see the moving process as it takes shapes and transpires. This spelled out guideline gives kids the ability to organize their own thoughts and feelings.
Giving children responsibilities gives them a sense of control.
Children should be allowed to participate whenever possible in the preparations for the move. Consulting their opinion on the new house and neighborhood, enlisting their help in finding a moving company, and getting them to help with the packing are all ways to bring them into the moving experience.
When the moving day comes, the trip to the new location should feel as much like a happy occasion as possible. Stopping at rest areas, having dinners as a family, and taking in sights along the way all build a vacation-like atmosphere that will raise spirits for the end of the destination.