A move can be exciting, challenging, and overwhelming for everyone, especially our children. While parents are managing the stress of negotiation, packing, and relocating, they are often surprised to encounter behavior issues from children. The uncertainty of big changes like moving can cause anxiety, tantrums, bad dreams, and excessive worrying in young children. Planning ahead can reduce worry and anxiety for everyone involved.
Here are some tips to engage your child in the moving process and help the entire family enjoy a smoother move:
- Explanation: Let children know that you may be looking for a new home and explain why. Kids can better understand moving to a different home when they know the reasoning behind it.
- Participation: Allow your child to attend some showings with you. This is not only helpful for allowing children to see houses and possibly providing some input, but your child might also point out some potential issues or non-issues in the home that you did not anticipate.
- Preparation: Create a moving day countdown calendar. This is a great way to ease any big transition. Designate special events like “packing day” or “painting day” on the schedule, as well as other milestones that the children can come to expect throughout the moving process.
- Packing: Let children pack a box. It can be exciting for them to send something with the movers and see it show up later; decorating the box is a nice touch as well! Be sure they pack a special box of their most special things to keep with them during the move to ease the transition.
- Creation: To help them make their new space feel more like their own, allow them to choose furnishings, rugs, curtains, or paint color. This helps to make a new space feel more like their own.
- Connection: Before you pack up your old house, remember to take pictures of the entire family in front of the home and/or in various rooms. This not only creates a nice memory, but gives you a tool to use in case “homesick memories” occur later.
These steps may not take away all the big feelings that come with moving, but the hope is that they make it a little smoother and allow for a lot of memories of the process.
Erin Troup, LPC, NCC, CT, IMH-E IV® is a child psychotherapist that specializes in grief, trauma, anxiety and attachment for children agent birth to 16. She is the owner of Sprout Center for Emotional Growth and Development, LLC, located in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. The practice specializes in supporting children and the people who love them.