How To Make Moving Easier On Your Kids

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Moving into a new home can be quite an adjustment for kids, especially if they’re leaving behind friends. It’s normal for children to have big emotions during this time. To help your kids through it, you need to be prepared to deal with those feelings.

For young children, they may not know how to deal with their emotions, and this can cause them to act out and break the rules. Older children and teenagers may be better equipped to deal with their feelings, but it’s still essential to help them through the process.

As difficult as this can be, there are ways to make moving easier on your kids.

Talking About The Move

In many cases, moving to a new home becomes a necessity. Whether it’s because of a job change or divorce, it’s important to talk about the situation and why you’ll be moving. The more open you are about it, the more likely your kids will feel comfortable talking to you.

Moving With Your Toddler/Preschooler

Children this young typically won’t understand how significant the change will be, but it’s still important to be open with them about what’s going on. At this age, using simple explanations is the most effective. 

An excellent way to do this is through storytelling. Use some books or their toys to help explain what is going on. Not only will this make it easier for them to understand, but it’ll give you both some time to play together as well.

Because this is such a significant change, it’s smart to hold off on other substantial changes like potty training or crib-to-bed transitioning. So if your little one is in diapers before the move, it’s probably best to wait until a little while afterward to make a change. Too many changes at once can cause overstimulation, which will then lead to increased tantrums and meltdowns.

girl on a swing

Moving With Your School-Ager

Once your child reaches school age, they’re more likely to understand the overall concept of moving away, making it easier to explain the situation. Keep in mind, though; they may get emotional.

At this point, they’ve probably made at least one friend. It’s never easy losing someone you care about. The emotions from that alone are big enough to potentially cause some severe lash outs. To avoid this behavior, we recommend doing the following:

  • Be excited: If you’re excited and upbeat during the process, your child will be too, although they’ll probably deny it. Plan how you will decorate their new room to get them focused on the positive rather than the negatives.
  • Let them help with the process: Including your kids in the house-hunting process will make them feel important. Plus, they’ll have the opportunity to express their opinion on what they like and dislike.
  • Be active in your new community: This is especially important if you’re moving to an entirely new area. The best way to make new friends is to put yourselves out there and meet your neighbors.
  • Keep in contact with their old friends: Let your kids know that their old friends are still there if you aren’t moving far away, schedule days to hangout. Even if you’re moving to a new area, you can always set up times for them to video chat.

Moving With Your Teen

While teens can understand the situation, their emotions are probably going to be much more elevated than with younger children. Also, by this time, they’ve probably made an established group of friends. This can undoubtedly cause a slew of emotions and insecurities as they learn to adjust to a new environment.

The best way to approach moving with your teen is to let them know of the situation as early as possible. Be open to conversation and listen to their concerns. Validating how they’re feeling can go a long way in making the transition as smooth as possible.

You can also turn the situation into a bonding moment. Let your kids help you with the house hunt and make sure you include some of their preferences into your “must-have” list. Beyond having fun with this process, your kids will learn about buying a home, which might be useful down the road.

home for sale

How To Ease Moving Anxiety

Moving to a new area is a significant change for most kids. The thought of leaving a city they’re familiar with, along with their friends and maybe even family can cause depression or anxiety. Your teenager will probably be the most vocal about how they feel, but your school-age child may not be so open about their feelings.

It’s essential to know the signs of depression and anxiety so you can best help your child adjust. You should contact your child’s healthcare professional if they experience any of these symptoms

  • Constant feelings of sadness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Loss of energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Persistent physical pain (headaches, stomachaches, etc.)
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

It can significantly help your child with the move if you clearly explain to them why the move is necessary. It may also help them feel better to know the area they’re moving to. If your child is experiencing anxiety about the move, take a trip to your new neighborhood and explore the surrounding area together.

Children are comfortable with what they know. Letting them see the new area for themselves can also help them feel better about what’s going on. 

Moving On Up

Moving can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. As difficult as it may seem, there are ways to make moving easier on your kids. There’s no doubt that you’ll run into some mixed emotions, but being there for them and listening to their concerns will help your kids see that the situation isn’t all that bad.

Keep them in the loop at all times and let them be a part of the process. The more open you are about the move, the more open they will be with you about their feelings. Plus, this may help you be more adept at spotting any symptoms of pre- or post-move anxiety or depression.

So go on an adventure to your new neighborhood. Meet some new neighbors and check out some local gems together. You’re going to get through this, and your kids will be okay.

Howard is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice. When he isn't spending time with his wife, Kristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.