Helping kids deal with the emotional stress of a move

Key insights

  • To help children cope with the stress of a move, speak openly with them about the reasons for the move and what they can expect in their new hometown.
  • Encourage new friendships and help your child find things to love in your new home by researching activities and teams before you move.
  • Don’t cut off interaction between your children and the friends they have from your old neighborhood. Help them to maintain these friendships with technology and in-person play dates or trips.

Moving from one home to another can be complicated and stressful for everyone, but research shows that it can take the biggest toll on children. To reduce the impact on your child and help them adjust to their new settings and surroundings, consider these insights.

Talk openly about the reason for the move

Studies show that the motivating factors for a move can greatly impact a child’s desire to relocate. This makes perfect sense — while any move is difficult, a corporate relocation that keeps the family intact would likely be less upsetting than a move occurring as the result of an unexpected divorce.

By speaking openly about the reason for the move, you can help your child to understand the causes and effects that trigger any major life change. While they may still struggle to accept their new norm, keeping the lines of communication open means they will be more likely to talk openly throughout the transition, rather than closing off once you reach your new home base.

Find resources to help with the transition

Whether your child loves their traveling Little League team, is a regular at the local library or has a passion for throwing clay pots at the school arts studio, do your best to find similar opportunities they can take part in immediately upon moving.

Be sure to present these options early on and talk openly about the pros and cons of each activity. Perhaps the local theater group is a bit smaller than the one they’re used to — this could mean more opportunities for big parts, even though the production value may be less professional. If your daughter went from winning the state tournament in hockey to having to join a local team that resembles the “Bad News Bears” on ice, ask her to help you look into special clinics or trainings so she can keep her skills sharp.

Remember, kids can see through “spin” so you may find it best to communicate openly with them and invite them into the decision-making process when it comes to keeping up with their hobbies and interests.

Help them maintain their most precious relationships

There’s no way to get around this one: moving away from friends can be extremely painful for children of any age. Avoid the temptation to say that they’ll make new friends quickly because frankly, you don’t know that is true.

Instead, determine what you can realistically do to help them maintain their friendships after you move. If you’re moving from Maple Grove to Woodbury, organize play dates on the weekends and during school breaks. If you’re moving several hours away or across state lines, you may have to make long-term promises that you should do your very best to keep. Talk with the parents of your kids’ friends to see if you can plan a weekend-long trip in the first few months after the move or send them to a sports camp together in the summer.

And in the interim, remember that today’s technology will help you and your kids adjust to your new surroundings. Be supportive of their desire to text or video call their friends, or to keep in touch via multi-player video games, YouTube collaborations and more. As long as you are able to monitor what they’re doing online, your kids should feel free to communicate openly with the people they love most from their old hometown.

Need a real estate agent who just gets it?

Edina Realty REALTORS® help families move each and every day, and they can provide thoughtful insights to help ease the transition for your family. Reach out today to get matched with potential agents who can close the deal while keeping your best interests at heart.

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