Helping kids cope with a move
17 October 2019 | Life Style
“If the move is due to the family upgrading to a larger home or a better neighbourhood, there will be far less emotional upheaval than if the reason for the move is because of a loss of income or the loss of a family member,” says Adrian Goslett of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “If a family is downgrading, the children will often pick up on the stress felt by the parents. Parents in this situation will have to approach the move very cautiously to ensure their child’s emotional wellbeing,” he cautions
Here are a few tips on how parents can make the transition easier for their children:
Leading up to the move
Children will have a higher level of anxiety if they feel as if something is going on and they are not fully aware of the details, so parents should make children aware of the move as early into the process as possible as this will give them time to get used to the idea.
In some instances, the children might think that moving will mean leaving their favourite things behind, so parents should ensure that the children know that their beloved toys and pets are coming along. Parents can also emphasise aspects that will not change during or after the move, such as play schedules, bedtimes or the fact that they have a loving family that supports them.
During the moving process
Allow the children to say goodbye to neighbours and their friends, as well as some of their favourite local places such as the park. Remind them that they will still be able to visit those friends or places at another time in the future. During the move (and depending on the age of the child), get the child involved in the moving process so that they feel included in the change.
In the new home
Setting up the children’s bedroom first will establish an area in the home that is familiar and safe. Of course, it will still take time to adjust to the new surroundings. Get the children excited about their new neighbourhood by taking them around the new area and explore the nearby parks and shops. Getting plugged into the community will also help make it feel like home far quicker. Sign your children up for a local playgroup or neighbourhood sports club.
“Throughout the moving process, it is important that children know that their parents are listening and paying attention to their emotions and needs. Parents could involve their children in the house hunt and allow them to share their opinions on the homes they’ve gone to view. Feeling a part of the journey can help lower anxiety and help children get on board with the decision,” Goslett says.