Moving With Young Children

A move across town or across the country can upset children's sense of security. Here's some tips on how to make the move as smooth as possible and alay some of your child's fears.

Moving with children under the age of five can be a challenge for any parent. Young children may resist a move because change can upset their sense of security. There are, however steps you can take to lessen the stress and help your child to feel more confident in your time of upheaval.

Include your child in your conversations about moving. Explain the reasons why you have to move and put them in terms that your child can understand. If you have to move because you have outgrown your current residence then explain to your child that while you love this house very much and have had some great times here it is getting too small. Liken it to apiece of clothing your child has recently outgrown. Explain that you have to find a bigger place to live just like she had to buy a bigger shirt because the old one got too small. If you are leaving because of a job transfer then explain that you have to move because you, (or Daddy) got a new job and liken it to how some kids move to a different house because it is closer to their school. Take your child with you to house hunt. Allow them to stay as long as possible in the potential house. Take them around the house and point out things that are familiar to them, such as a child's room, the fridge and stove, the TV, etc. Give a running commentary on how life will be in the new place. Help to paint a picture for them with words, using such phrases as, "Look at that living-room, we are going to put our big blue couch right over there." Or use encouraging words that will help your child to realize that moving doesn't mean he will leave his belongings behind like, "When we move here, you can put your bed there and your train set here and your teddy bear over there." Take your child to explore outside the house too. Point out good climbing trees, spots to ride his bike, places to plant a flower garden and enthusiastically foretell how much fun he will have doing all these things. If it is impossible for you to visit the house before hand then tell your child what you do know about the new residence and help him to paint a visual picture in his mind. Tell him that the new house will have all the things this house has, like a fridge, a stove, a bathroom, bedrooms, two doors, etc. It will help your child to know that the new house will still have all the amenities he is used to.

Involve your child in the moving preparations as much as possible. When he feels included he will be less likely to think he will be left behind. Very young children will have fun packing and unpacking boxes so provide young toddlers with a pile of their own toys and a box and let them have fun playing beside you. If you have a pre-reader then you can ask him to help by sounding out the letters of the words as you are labeling the boxes. As you work, keep reiterating that you are cleaning the place for when you move out and the new people move in. Tell your children that you are helping out the new people by making the house clean for them. It will help you child to know that the new people that move in will be happy, nice people. A child is more willing to give someone something if they can be assured they will take good care of it.

Some children will see their home as an extension of themselves and will feel a genuine sense of mourning when they have to move. You can ease your child through the grieving process by helping them to remember the fond memories they had in the house. Before you start tearing down the fixtures, take your children through the house and take pictures of them in each room. Let them know that you are taking the pictures so they can always remember the old house. Having them say good-bye to their favorite places in the house will help them to bring a sense of closure to the situation. Try to keep the good-bye's upbeat to avoid your child feeling overly sad.

After the preliminary discussions about moving, only broach the topic whenever your child seems to want to talk about it. Be open and answer any questions they might have about the move. Don't dismiss their fears but try to answer their questions as straightforwardly as possible and let them come to their own conclusions. Build up the positive aspects of the move as much as you can. Tell them what you like about the house. Ask them leading questions about what they would like and then when they tell you, you can point out how the new home will possess some of those attributes.

On moving day, if you have someone looking after the children while you do the physical moving, allow the children to visit the house before you move in. This way they can see that the home is empty and waiting for them. If possible allow the children to check in with you periodically to see how the move is progressing. If you are hiring a moving company allow your children to meet the movers and watch for a little while. If you can afford to present your children with a little house warming present, such as a picture for their room or a some balloons (under adult supervision) and streamers to put up in the house for fun. Pack a special box with all their favorite toys and keep it in the car (not the moving truck) to present to them when they get into the new place for the first time. This will avoid those moments of panic while you rip open boxes, wildly searching for their "binky."

Moving is rated one of the top five most stressful things you can do in your life and it is no different for children. A gentle hug and a loving kiss will go a long way in comforting your child. The most important message to get across to your child during all of this is that you love him and will never leave him. A family sticks together and anywhere you are, he will be too. If you do your best to convey the thoughts expressed in this article, you will be doing a lot toward making your move a smooth one.

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