Helping Kids Prepare Emotionally for the Big Move
Moving is a big deal—a major upheaval in a person’s life. When you’re a kid, it’s an even bigger deal. As adults, we have life experience to fall back on. We’ve lived and worked in different places. We’ve packed boxes and hauled our stuff to various places. We know what to expect. Kids don’t have a frame of reference for moving. To them, moving is a giant leap into the unknown. They look to us to navigate that leap. How can you help your child prepare for your big move? Start with their feelings. Allow Kids to Feel Their Feelings—Even the Difficult Ones One of the biggest things you can do to help your child during this transition is to allow space for their feelings. Yes, you can frame the move in a positive light. You can point out that they’ll have a bigger bedroom or that you’ll be closer to a place they’ll enjoy. No matter how many benefits there are to your move, your kids are going to feel a range of emotions. It’s normal for kids to feel worry, sadness, or even fear in the face of moving. Check in with your child about their feelings. Let them know it’s okay for them to feel however it is they are feeling. Remember the wisdom that feelings aren’t right or wrong. They just are. Children have a lot less experience than we do in handling their emotions. Your kids may not “handle” their emotions in ways that are particularly helpful. That’s where you come in. Share Your Feelings About the Move You don’t have to pretend that all of your feelings about the move are positive. In fact, it’s helpful for kids to know that they aren’t alone in how they feel. You can say things like: I feel worried about moving, too. I wonder if I’ll make friends in our new home. I feel sad about moving away from Grandma. I’ll miss going to our favorite restaurant here. Processing difficult emotions is an important life skill. It’s helpful for your kids to see how you manage them. You might share with them the steps you take to cope with sad feelings. A healthy process involves:
- acknowledging feelings
- taking time to feel your feelings
- expressing your feelings in some way (talking, crying, journaling)
- creating a plan to feel happier—not denying the feelings, but moving past them
- Who do you want to see before you leave?
- Do you want to have a gathering with several people?
- Do you want to have time with individual people?
- Is there a local park or place you’d like to go with friends before leaving?
- Have classmates sign an autograph book or “going away” poster. You could make a template for kids to write what they’ll miss or what they hope for your child.
- Give out cards with your new address, phone number, and social media (if age appropriate)
- Have your child donate a book to the school library (lots of schools have a library donation program)
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