It is the premise to every other young adult novel or movie: the new kid struggling to make his way in a new town without their old friends or familiar comforts.
Such a scenario is endlessly relatable, because it so darn accurate. It’s difficult for kids to move to a new home, adjust to a new school, and make new friends, but there are things parents can to do make them feel less overwhelmed.
“Parents can talk with their children about how things will change when they move to a new home,” said Maria Sanders, a social worker and parent coach.
She suggests asking children if they have any questions about the move and what their new home will be like.
Ali Wenzke, founder of The Art of Happy Moving blog, says the more parents involve children in the planning of a move, the better they’ll feel about it.
“Moving, even if it’s just down the street, can be a big adjustment for your child,” Wenzke said. “It feels like their world is being turned upside down.”
Here are six tips for helping kids adjust when they relocate to a new home:
1. Prepare Your Children in Advance.
Being prepared means saying goodbye to people and places before the move takes place, said Julia Simens, author of “Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child”.
Well before your scheduled move, talk to your children about your plans to relocate. They’ll be more willing to part with old friends and familiar surroundings if they know something about the home they’re moving to and the reasons behind the move.
2. Make Sure They Know About Big Changes They’ll Face.
Children often fear the unknown. When they don’t know anything about how their lives may change, their imaginations fill in the blanks. The more they understand about what their new home will be like, the less threatened they’ll feel.
For example, if they must give up household pets or if extended family members who’ve been a part of their lives no longer will live nearby, they need to have an explanation, said Simens.
3. Let Them Participate in the Move.
Simens recommends that you start planning your move as early as possible to reduce stress.
In order to make your children feel a part of what’s going on, give them chores to do to get ready for the move. If they’re allowed to pack their own things, they’ll understand that their possessions will be waiting for them when they arrive at their new home.
4. Plan Activities For Your Road Trip.
If you’re driving a great distance to your new home, the trip will go more smoothly if you plan activities for your kids. Ask them what toys, games, and movies they would like to have with them.
“Consider splurging on new books or a new movie that your kids can use in the car,” said Wenzke.
Simens recommends packing your children’s favorite treats and taking plenty of rest breaks along the way.
5. Make Their New Room Seem Familiar.
Your children will feel more comfortable in their new home if you allow them surround themselves with familiar things, especially in the months immediately following the move.
“The rug they always stand on when they get up, their nightlight, the soft pillow they love would all be wonderful in a new environment,” said Simens.
6. Take Your Kids on a Tour of the New Neighborhood.
To make your move a family adventure, take your children on a tour of the new neighborhood. Help them find the best routes to their school and other places they’ll want to visit, such as parks, the local library, and playgrounds.
“When you move somewhere new, forget about getting every last box unpacked right away,” said Wenzke. “Instead, spend that time focusing on your neighborhood and your new city.”