Moving to a new home is difficult for anyone, but when you are little and have no control over where you go and how you get there, the experience can feel downright overwhelming. Unfortunately, many children have a difficult time adjusting to their new location and it can take weeks or months to settle into an unfamiliar home and feel secure again in the surroundings.
When the time comes to relocate, it is important to spend some time working with your child to make the experience easier. A little patience and a lot of TLC will make the adjustment easier on the youngest members of your family.
Timing Your Move
Courtney and Scott learned they needed to move mid-February, just a few weeks after they celebrated their son’s fifth birthday. They had no control over their move – either when or where it took place because it was work-related and too good to pass up. Unfortunately, their son was not as excited about the move.
Courtney decided to make the best of a tough situation and maintain a positive attitude, even though she felt some anxiety, too. Unlike her little boy, she understood the need to move, but was able to relate to how upsetting it would be to change locations. They were moving halfway across the country and starting a new life – in a five year old’s small world, something like that is unimaginable.
Courtney did her best to prepare her little boy for the move. In the weeks leading up to the big day, she talked about the upcoming change and asked if her son was excited or scared. She sensed he didn’t understand exactly what was happening, but knew it would help if the upcoming change was not a complete surprise. She also let her little boy choose the paint color in his new room, hoping that would distract him from any fear he might feel.
It’s been six weeks since Courtney and Scott settled into their new home and as far as they can tell, their little boy is adjusting fine.
Age Appropriate Support
David and Selena were concerned their move would disrupt the life of their three year old daughter and cause behavior problems, so they came up with an age appropriate plan to prepare little Dana well in advance.
A child’s age plays a big role in determining how best to deal with the move, and David and Selena knew moving into a strange environment could be tough at such a young age. They explained to Dana details of the upcoming move in simple terms, and even planned a visit to the new home before the big day. Dana helped with packing, so she knew her belongings would be making the trip to the new place, too. Selena also let her keep a few favorite toys unpacked throughout the process. And as much as Selena was hoping to get started with potty training, she postponed it until they were settled in their new home.
For older children, a move can be just as scary as it was for Dana, but in different ways. Chris and Angel were worried about their eleven year old twins with their upcoming move, but things went much better than they anticipated. They figured school age kids would understand the need to move, but also knew uprooting the twins from their school and friends could be tough. Moving during the summer seemed like a blessing, but they quickly realized the twins had only one another to play with. They researched local social groups and enrolled the twins in swimming class and a computer club. By the time school arrived, the twins already knew a few children in their class.
It was also important to Chris that the twins maintain contact with old friends. He’d moved many times as a child and knew it could be tough when you lose touch with friends. In a way, he envied the twins’ opportunity to keep in touch with old friends through email and video chat.
Getting through the actual move is just a part of helping your child adjust to a new home. It is important to remember the adjustment can take weeks or months, so be as patient as possible. Your child’s room should be the first one unpacked once you arrive in your new home in order to provide a familiar, comfortable place to settle in.
Also try to maintain your usual schedule and be realistic about how long it will take your child to adjust to the new home. Be patient with behavior issues because your child is likely to test the new situation. Sticking to your usual boundaries will help him or her feel more secure. It’s normal for your child to feel anxious about the new situation, but if he or she sees that many things are still the same it will help with the transition. Courtney and Scott noticed a few issues with tantrums and bedtime during the first weeks in their new home, but with a little extra TLC and sticking firm to a bedtime, things were back on track in just a short time.
Moving to a new home can be a tough challenge, but it is one that many families handle with success. By preparing your child for the move and being patient during the transition, your child can adjust and be happy in any location.
Written by Kelly B