If you’ve ever experienced relocation, you already understand the ins and outs. But moving with kids can elevate high-stress levels, as anxiety about moving to another state only worsens when you have a family. Preparing children for a move the right way is crucial in many ways, and helping them deal with the transition can ensure the whole family adjusts more quickly. Without further ado, here are some coping strategies you can implement to learn how to move with kids.
Preparing Children for a Move
Why preparing children for a move is important
Americans tend to move a lot during their lifetime, and they do so for several reasons. Most relocate for a new job, and some need a larger living space because their family is growing. According to the US Census Bureau research, families that fit into the age group of 15 to 54 with kids under the age of 6 have relocated at a rate of almost 40%. As kids are older, this research also shows that families tend to move less because their kids are in school. However, each age group needs adjusting in their own way, and helping them cope before and after the move will allow you to avoid numerous issues down the road.
Although they say a child is more resilient than parents believe, such a significant change could affect them in many ways, especially mentally. So, if you’re planning to relocate to a new home, preparing your kids for a big move is crucial. Relocations are already complex, but when you’re moving with children, you also need to choose the right school, find a new pediatrician, and above all, work on helping a child cope with moving emotionally.
How does moving affect a child?
There are various effects of moving on a child that can happen, both positive and negative. The impact largely depends on the child’s age, personality, and previous experiences. Some common ways in which a relocation can impact your child’s life include the following:
- Relocations disrupt a child’s sense of stability and familiarity, leading to feelings of anxiety and stress. Remember that they worry about leaving behind their friends, changing schools, and adjusting.
- They may mourn the loss of their old home and their broader family and peers.
- Adjusting to a new home, school, and neighborhood can be challenging for children.
- They may experience a rollercoaster of emotions – they can feel excited and sad simultaneously, but also frustration and anger.
- Moving house has various effects on child development, emotional well-being, and academic progress.
However, remember that not all children will experience a relocation similarly. Some kids may adapt quickly, embrace the change, and thrive in their new environment. What will matter the most is the support of parents.
How to help your child cope with moving anxiety
The best way to handle such a change is to present the relocation as an adventure, especially with younger children. If your child is older, it’s important to point out the positive effects a relocation can bring – new friends, a better school, and a different environment. To help your child cope, it’s essential to provide them with reassurance and support throughout the process.
If you create a positive narrative around the new home and highlight the opportunities and exciting aspects they can look forward to, it will lessen the mental and emotional burden. It’s also important to keep in mind that a child senses their parents’ emotions, so as you help them cope, you should also practice self-care and take breaks from all the relocation fuss.
Babies and toddlers - the best age to move a child
If we’re talking about the best age to move out of a home and settle in another location, we can claim with certainty that moving with a baby and toddlers is the easiest. When the kids are so young, their lives center around their families, and relocating with family in this situation is one of the positive effects of moving as a child.
Moving with a newborn
Moving with an infant during their first year of life may have minimal impact since they haven’t fully formed attachments or developed a sense of place. Parents should focus on maintaining their regular routines and caregiving and a nurturing environment, which means sticking to their regular schedule.
Moving with a toddler
As toddlers begin to develop social connections, it’s essential to consider their emotional well-being. The key is approaching the move with sensitivity by providing reassurance, maintaining routines, and offering consistent support to help them navigate the transition successfully.
How to move with preschoolers
What to do when moving house with a 3-year-old, or if you have an energetic 5-year-old moving out with you into a new home? Although your child is still very young, keep in mind that communication is vital.
So, how to tell a child they are moving? Use an age-appropriate manner to talk to them, and be prepared to answer all their questions and concerns. Try to keep their daily routines consistent, including regular meal times, nap schedules, and bedtime routines, to provide stability amidst the changes.
Involve them in the process
Make moving easier for you and your preschooler by involving them in the process. Let them help pack their belongings, choose new decorations for their room, and make decisions about their new space. Allow them to decide about toys and books they want to take to their new room and donate. Offer children coloring books that depict the relocation process, or watch a movie about it.
Help your child make a memory box
A memory box allows kids to preserve keepsakes and mementos that hold sentimental value. Encourage them to choose items that are meaningful to them, such as photographs. Help them decorate the box and personalize it.
Tips for moving with kids that go to school
If you’re wondering what’s the worst age to move a child, many parents would say it’s moving a teenager out of state. And even though there’s no good age to move out, research shows that moving during middle school is probably the worst age to change schools.
So how to make moving easier for your teenager? Although teenagers are considered notoriously moody, bear in mind that a child attending school at any age has a lot to deal with when they relocate. They are particularly prone to a more challenging transition as they leave their known environment and all their friends behind.
Plan a farewell party
While a goodbye party is a great way for adults to say farewell to their friends, if you’re moving a family across the country, plan a gathering for your kids, too. It’s an opportunity for your children to see their friends before you relocate, share memories, exchange contact information, and create lasting connections.
How to deal with moving as a teenager
How to make a move more manageable when you have a teen? If you want to help your teen cope with relocation and avoid any effects of moving on a teenager, remember that each child will respond differently. The most important thing is to validate their feelings and be patient. Also, you should include them in the decision-making process.
If you want to help them learn how to cope with moving to a new place, allow them to explore the new area together with you before you start packing. If you don’t know what to do if your teenager doesn’t want to move, stop and listen to their perspective.
What to do if you're moving kids during the school year
Moving out of state during the school year may be trickier since it is the worst age for a child to move. However, there are situations where moving in the middle of the school year can not be avoided, so make sure you have a plan in place. Firstly, it’s essential to thoroughly research and explore potential schools in the new area and allow your child to express their preferences. The next step is to contact the new school and schedule a meeting.
One of the things to consider when relocating your family during school months is that you should prepare all the necessary academic records, such as report cards, transcripts, and standardized test scores, so they can be transferred on time. Once the transition happens, encourage your child to reach out to teachers or school counselors to discuss any specific concerns or goals.
Helping your kids move should be a priority
Moving on is challenging; from a child’s perspective, announcing “we are moving” can be a severe source of stress and anxiety. Children rely on their parents for support and guidance, so making their needs your priority is essential. Being attentive to what they need and want will help them settle into the new environment without any more outstanding issues, and they will feel more secure and supported.