Moving with kids: what could be more stressful? Many children – from kindergarten age to teens – are very resistant to the idea of uprooting and starting fresh in a new place. If that place is hundreds of miles away, it can be even trickier. Parents must know how to mentally prepare their kids for the move, help mitigate any stresses along the way, and know how to set their child up for success in their new home.
Mentally prepare your child for the big move
The main thing here is to keep an open, honest dialogue going. Your child is going to have a lot of questions about why you’re moving, and you should be truthful and patient with them. Discuss why it’s good for the family to make the move. Moving to a new city is scary for kids, so help them mentally prepare by taking a trip to the new city with them before the move. If you can’t manage that, use the power of the internet to help. You can research everything there is to know about a place and show them hundreds of photos.
Involve your child in the decision-making process as much as you can
Children often feel powerless during a big move. They know that it’s an adult decision and they don’t have much control over it. If you can’t give them any say in the move itself, you can mitigate some of these feelings by giving them some power in smaller decisions related to the move. If deciding between a few new homes, ask them which one they like better. Let them pick out new decorative items and furniture for their room. Even involve them heavily in the packing process. The more they feel like they’re part of the process the better.
Help your child find new friends as soon as possible
For kids, one of the scariest parts about moving to a new city is leaving their friends behind and being forced to make new ones. It’s vital that you help in this process. You should make a point to meet people in your new neighborhood – and bring your child along. Neighbors are some of the most natural friends for children. Research community activities, sports teams, and other activities before you move. That way, when you arrive, your child can have something social to do immediately. Parents.com suggests practicing conversation openers with your child. For example: Hello, my name is Jack, and I just moved here from New York. What do you like to do? Would you like to be friends?
Get familiar with their new school
Making sure your child gets a good start at their new school is probably the most important part of a smooth transition after a cross-country move. Redfin.com suggests scheduling a school visit before your child officially starts. This way they can see the campus, meet their teachers, and get used to the new environment before day one. If you can’t do that, at least contact the school’s administrators and ask what your child needs to do to be successful from the start. Talk to teachers and see if there’s any schoolwork that your child can get a headstart on. It’s important to keep your child learning even during the transition period between schools, as starting at a new school is already hard enough without adding lagging behind to the mix.
Moves are going to be stressful on your kids – there’s no getting around that. Fortunately you can mitigate this stress by getting them involved in the move, setting them up for success at school from day one, and doing all you can to facilitate new friendships.