Helping Your Children Deal with Relocation
We’ve written many articles about athlete relocation, preparing for the relocation, steps to take while relocating, and things to do after the relocation is completed. For those of you with children, though, relocation is a bit more complicated. Moving to another city is extremely stressful on children, probably much more so than on an adult. Not only are children leaving their home, friends, neighborhood and school, they are also entering a strange new world with new schools, new neighborhood, new peers and new friends. In other words, children suffer a loss while at the same time must deal with major uncertainties that they are not equipped to deal with.
There is good news, though: the negative effects of moving are often temporary and can be lessened by taking some pro-active steps.
- Prepare your children far in advance. Discuss the relocation and explain to them the reasons why your family must move.
- Listen to your child’s feelings about losing friends. Be sympathetic.
- Allow your children to become a part of the relocation process. Involve them in making decisions like choosing furniture for their new rooms.
- Give your children the “important” job of researching the new area they are moving to. Where are the schools? Where is the shopping center?
- If at all possible move during the summer when the impact of leaving school will be less.
- Stay calm around your children. Kids read their parents like a book. If you are stressed over the relocation, they will be stressed as well.
- If your child is an at-risk child, arrange for professional counseling.
- Ask your child how you can help them with the transition. Make it readily apparent that they are very important and you are there for them.
Relocation does not have to be a crippling experience for your children. In fact, it can become an adventure shared by the whole family. The secret is in how you handle it as parents.