oving to a new house can be stressful for everybody! Take heart, however, as it is felt that children under the age of five tend to move the easiest.
Their security depends entirely on their parents, so they usually feel safe provided their parents are around. The child’s age and general personality, however, will affect how easily the child will be able to adapt to new situations.
Children over five are impacted more as they leave behind friends and often change schools during an important time of social development.
When parents are sensitive to the impact of moving on their children, one can make moving a positive experience, enhancing your child’s emotional growth, adaptability, self-confidence, and social skills.
When the move is due to a job loss or loss of income, the move may represent many challenges for both parents and children and seeking professional advice may prove helpful.
Listed below are a few do and don’ts to consider:
· Prepare your child for the move with simple explanations that are repeated often.
· Take your child to visit their new home, chat about their room and try to make them excited about this ‘new adventure.’
· Make sure that your child knows that everyone is moving, so they do not feel as if they are going to be on their own or will be left behind.
· Be prepared to answer and be asked the same questions throughout the moving process. Children often show their anxiety by asking the same things repeatedly.
· The actual process of packing up for a move can alarm some children (especially those who do not like disruption). Therefore, try to leave the packing up of your child’s room until late (preferably last) in the process.
· When it comes time to start packing, ask your child to help you pack up their room. This will reassure them that all their toys and treasures are coming with her, and she’ll also be more comfortable knowing where her things are.
· Label your child’s boxes clearly and put them with the things that you plan to unpack first.
· Your child needs consistency to feel secure, so once you’re at the new house, set up their room first – no matter how chaotic the rest of the house is or how much you’re dying to unpack the silverware.
· Obviously, you will not be able to unpack and arrange everything in your child’s room, but a few pieces of familiar furniture will help to make your child feel more secure.
· Buy something new for their room and build up the excitement so that they look forward to their new environment, e.g., buy a new carpet, or chair, or curtains, etc.
· Encourage your little one to spend the first night in their new home in their own cot or bed surrounded by their own furniture and “stuff.”
· Make sure that they have access to all the things they love and use all the time. If you do this, then they have a sanctuary to go to when they feel overwhelmed by all the unpacked boxes in the rest of the house.
· Have children of all ages pack a bag of essential, favorite, “can’t live without” things to keep with them at all times, particularly when actually moving. Don’t forget to organize snacks, drinks, etc.
· When you have moved into your new home, schedule some trips away from the new home to help establish the new base. This will help make the new house into a place “to come home to” and thereby enhance the sense of a familiar place.
· Familiarize yourself with anything that will enhance your child’s excitement about his new home, e.g., a park or a special attraction, and take them there prior to the move and then often thereafter.
· Keep the same routine and rules from the very first day of moving into your new home. This will help your little one feel more secure.
· Don’t make promises that you cannot keep, i.e., when you move. You can have a pet.
· Avoid making other changes at the same time as the move, such as toilet training or buying and transferring your child into a new bed.
o New things create a feeling of insecurity.
o Old things are familiar and create a feeling of security so try not to overwhelm and confuse your little one.
· Don’t be tempted to literally “clean house” and discard old toys and unused articles as the loss of material things may overwhelm some children.
o It is better to help them sort out the bulk of their things once they are moved in and when they feel more in control of their new environment.
· Don’t go on an “unpacking frenzy” and forget about the needs of your child. They will need lots of love and attention during the first week or two.
o Try not to say, “Mommy can’t come and play because I have to unpack.”