Moving can be fairly stressful experience. It’s not just the hard work and planning associated with it, but also the fact that you have to adjust to be a new location. You’ve got to meet new people, new neighbours and make new friends. These things are even harder for a kid to do, especially one of a primary / secondary school age. They’ll be taken out of their environment and into a new one – they’ll have to start new friendships, get to know new teachers… it’s a lot for them to take in.
That being said, you’ll have to help them adjust to their new environment. There are steps to be taken before and after the move, and I’ll do my best to outline them here. You’ve got to take into account that every child is different, and as a parent you’ll have to take matters your own hands at times. Each age group is different, so I will work through each of them individually.
Infants – Toddlers
Children of this age are usually too young to grasp what the move involves, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be affected by it. The best way to get a young child to adjust to a new environment is to keep all of the routines the same; same bedtime, same mealtimes, etc. That way, even though the environment is slightly different, they’ll grow back into it. As long as you keep things predictable, the move should go smoothly for them.
If you can help it, try not to move if your child is going through a transition period. Potty training and the beginning of nursery / school is what I mean. Throwing too much at a child all at once is typically not the best idea.
Primary school age
This is where things start to get tricky. Kids of school age have usually made their friends and settled into a niche, and moving to a new town and consequentially a new school might cause problems. Making friends is a very important part of growing up, and having to do that all over again is problematic.
To get around this, remind them that it’s easy to stay in touch with old friends. Instant messenger and social networking exists in this day and age, so friendships aren’t broken as easily. As for the new school problems? As long as you’re there to provide support, everything should turn out fine. Just tell them it’s normal to be nervous, and they’ll adjust eventually.
Teenagers, as you should know if you share a house with one, typically show their emotions in a different way. ‘It’s not fair’, is one of the things they’ll probably say. And you as a parent have got to remind them that, while you understand how they feel, moving is unavoidable.You’ve got to remain in control yet show them that you care.
It’s normal for teenagers to react in this way, because it’s not just friends that’ll break up in the move, romantic relationships flourish at this time, not to mention that the teenage years are the years where a kid develops his or her identity. You ‘interfering’ with a move will threaten that. But as long as you’re courteous, and they can use a social network (which are built for teenagers) everything will work out. Just don’t lose your temper, even if they do.
A move isn’t all doom and gloom for a kid, it can also be a positive experience. Finding out about new places is good for stimulating growing brains. The kids just need to adjust, and by following the above tips, they will.