Tips for Supporting your Child during a Move

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Many families will move at some point, sometimes to another house in the same neighbourhood, sometimes to another city, and sometimes even to another country. Either way, moving house is a significant change that requires physical and emotional preparation. It's complex for us adults, so it is easy to imagine how hard it must be for a child. This article will give you some tips to help you prepare your child for the move.

When to tell them

Make sure to tell your child before they work it out themselves. Give them enough time to digest the idea, and avoid waiting for the last minute so as not to cause them too much stress. Informing them too early may also put them under a lot more stress.

You can start a conversation a few months before the move, when you start looking for a new home. Giving them a clear idea of when the move will take place can help them to prepare themselves properly.

After announcing the move, make an effort to have a conversation on the subject. Most of the time moving home involves a change in environment, both socially and physically, which can be distressing for children. Like any change, it will have both positive and negative consequences for them. Because of this, the way you convey the message to them can greatly affect how they react.

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Dealing with a negative reaction

Even if you are sure that the move will be good for the whole family, you may still encounter strong opposition to the move. This is especially common with children aged eight and over. This is due to the fact that they are already fairly involved with their social environment. Even if they didn't fit in perfectly in the current environment, a familiar environment will still be a lot less scary than an unknown one.

Lots of questions pop up: What about my friends? What about the classes I like? And more. Try to answer the questions as much as possible, although some of them will probably not be resolved until the move itself. Try to acknowledge and validate your child's negative emotions and anger about you disconnecting them from a familiar environment.

Avoid saying "you'll be fine, you'll meet new friends". They will be far more concerned with the friends they are losing than any potential future ones that they haven't even met yet. Instead say "I understand you're sad and angry about the move and understand that it will keep you away from your friends. It will not be the same as it is now, but you can stay in touch, talk on the phone, and even visit each other sometimes ."

Your child is unlikely to be fully satisfied with this answer, but at least now they no longer feel that no one understands their feelings.

Packing and moving on

With every new start, there is also a new opportunity. Sort the children's clothes and belongings and choose what is being kept and what can be recycled or donated. Make a list of things they need and ideas they have for designing the new room, it will help make the relocation into something exciting to look forward to.

Allow the child to say goodbye to their home, school or kindergarten, teachers and friends. It is recommended to make a small album with pictures, drawings and a few words. If possible, it can also be a good idea to come back and visit at some point.

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