Make move easy for childrenPublished 7:43pm Saturday, July 28, 2012
QUESTION: How can we make moving easier for our children?
ANSWER: One out of five American families moves every year.
When I was 5 years old, I was terribly disappointed that our new house did not contain the furniture I had seen when I originally walked through it with my parents. When I was 14, I was devastated that a change in my father’s job meant moving away from my best girlfriend who lived on the same block.
When my oldest child was 10, the most important thing in “house hunting” was the evidence of other kids playing outside in a potentially new neighborhood. My most emotional memory is of my 2 year old sleepily coming into the kitchen after his first nap in our new house saying, “Let’s go home now, Mommy.”
In general, here’s how children of different ages might react to moving: Pre-schoolers respond to how their parents feel. While 3-year-olds cannot think abstractly about change, they can definitely sense friction and tension. The top need for young children is the reassurance that their parents will keep them safe.
School-age children need to be included in discussions. They have already learned about transitions: new schools, different classes and various teachers. They also know how to find comfort in books, games, TV and friends. They need help expressing the questions on their mind: “Will I be able to play soccer?” “Can I take my treasures with me?”
Adolescents fear losing their friends. It is normal for kids over 12 to feel angry at their parents for moving. We can help them by finding healthy ways to say goodbye and stay in touch.
Families who have experienced several moves have offered these helpful suggestions:
•Arrange your child’s room first. Let kids do some of their own decorating to give them a sense of control.
•Stick to as many routines as possible. Even though you can expect some changes in eating and sleeping patterns, if you are patient they will soon return to normal.
•Seek out neighbors with children. Ask a neighborhood child to take your family for a walk. Encourage your child to invite other kids over. Help coordinate some interesting activities at your house.
•Give your child special attention. Family time will be very valuable the first weeks after a move.
•Meet other parents at school or church or at the YMCA. The less isolated you feel, the easier it’s going to be for your children.
If you would like to talk about the challenges of raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org.