Anyone who’s seen Pixar’s outstanding movie Inside Out can tell you just how stressful moving home can be for kids of any age. Especially if the move takes them away from their support network of school, friends, and extracurricular activities like sports and the arts. Everything may seem the same to you in your new home with similar amenities and attractions… but in the eyes of your child, you might as well have relocated to Mars.
The unfortunate truth is that even if you’ve taken all the right steps to manage a smooth, predictable, and (relatively) stress-free move, even if you used the best moving and storage companies, and even if you’ve taken every possible care to minimize disruption, the truth is that the prospect of settling happily into their new home may seem impossible for your child. Especially if they’re already navigating those challenging teen or preteen years.
Here are some ways to make it easier for your youngsters to settle down and enjoy life in their new home…
Accentuate the positives
There’s a lot to get excited about when it comes to moving home, even if the idea of starting afresh in a new town, city, or state is daunting. It’s up to you to accentuate the positives and help them focus less on the negatives. Draw attention to the coolest things about your new house. Help them get excited about decorating their room however they want. Show them cool attractions that you know they’ll love like the local mall, movie theater, or sports stadium. Help them to visualize a better, happier life for themselves and the whole family.
Listen to them when they tell you about the negatives
Of course, hewing closely to the positives doesn’t mean that you should jam your fingers in your ears when they pipe up about the negatives. Listening is one of the most important skills a parent can have. If your child feels like their opinion is invalidated by a parent they are likely to view the move as an even more negative prospect.
Let them vent about their anxieties and frustrations before telling them in a calm and measured way what you can do together to help them feel better about it.
Make yourselves a part of your new community
The family as a whole will find the whole move much easier if you form close links with the greater community as soon as possible. Encourage your son or daughter to sign up for sports teams or acting classes or whatever else they love to do in their free time. Find a local church and help your child make friends among the other parishioners. Give them a nice busy schedule to help them to weave themselves into the fabric of their new community.
But don’t burn bridges in your old community
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should encourage your child to cut ties with their old friends. You should still encourage Skype chatting with their old friends and arrange visits and sleepovers if feasible.
While it may take a little while, eventually your child can come to realize that moving might just be the best thing that could have happened to them.