Moving is equal parts exciting and terrifying. As an adult, you’re often focused on the finances and tactical planning of finding, financing, and physically moving into your new home. You may feel overwhelmed, but you’re able to balance the stressors of change with the rewards that await. Your children, however, might not be able to balance that good and bad of a move so easily. It’s a busy time, but simply taking the time to talk to your children about the move will go a long way in helping them feel more at ease and positive.
For kids, they often see a move as pure loss. Loss of safety, security, friends, school, neighbors, and all the things they’ve already established as their favorites. The good is unknown for them unless you lay it out clearly and objectively.
Preteen and teen kids are also going through the simultaneous transition of puberty. It makes them prone to moodiness and dramatics already, and a move may seem like the end of the world. Smaller children may have fear in simply not understanding what’s happening.
Of course, as Psychology Today points out, many moves are also preceded by family problems, such as job loss, divorce, or financial difficulties. When families have already been under an emotional strain, a move can feel catastrophic, even if it’s designed to help the family.
Communication is the key to kids feeling at ease for a move. When clear and patient, it enables the child to know what’s expected of them now and what they can expect for their future, which ultimately promotes their security and acceptance.
Here are three tips for talking to your kids about moving:
Break the news at a private family meeting with basic details of where and when the family will be moving. Don’t overwhelm your child with too much info. Instead, allow your child to display their emotions in a constructive way at their own pace through their questions.
Answer honestly with consideration to their age and comprehension. Use open dialogue words, don’t interrupt, and don’t get angry. Remember, kids want to know that their complaints and concerns are heard. If emotions run high, ask each child to go to their room for an hour and write a question list.
This Q&A meeting should take place as soon as you know a move is certain, which gives your child the most time to prepare and come to terms with a new way of life.
If moving is a certainty, do make sure that you don’t display doubts or wavering opinions that will make your child even more anxious. Be assertive and assured that this is the best move for your entire family.
Don’t forget that kids can often hear your marital discussions when you don’t think they’re listening, meaning you and your significant other must take a united stance on the move. Make it clear that discussion is open for their concerns and questions, not whether or not the move will occur.
If possible, include your children in the decision making process for the move. Assure them that this is a team effort and offer them control where you can.
Zillow, Realtor, and several other sites have real estate listings with pictures. If you haven’t found your new home, set the search criteria and allow older kids to look through listings with you. If you’ve already found the home, allow the kids a visual as you point out it’s features. For example: “Look at this great space to have a fun family game night!”
Will the kids be able to pick or design their new room, or maybe, they’ll get new furniture or bedding? Point out any “choice” opportunities they’ll have during the move.
Speak with your real estate agent to get a listing of exciting places around your new home. Your realtor can likely also give you details about the area’s school system and other exciting focal points for your kids, such as community youth groups for athletics, arts, and so forth.
In closing, moving is usually hard for any family, but family communication can help you avoid the unnecessary added stress of confused and angry kids. Use the above three tips in talking to your kids about the move. It will go a long way in helping them feel confident, secure, and at ease with the move, even if they’re not particularly thrilled about it.