Moving With Kids: Helping Children Manage a Relocation

A move to a new community is a challenge for adults. But for children, the adjustment can be overwhelming. By handling their needs well, the overall move will be smoother, and they are more likely to approach with excitement instead of dread.

All aspects of a child's life are altered in a relocation. New neighborhood, new school, and new friends can be daunting. And, the impact of leaving behind what is familiar adds to the stress. By handling the move well, your child may learn valuable lessons and skills that will help them adapt later on in life.

There are lots of resources available to consult regarding a child's needs in a relocation. Schools can surely help, at both ends of the move. Here are some specific suggestions:

Be open and honest with your child early. Share as much detail as the child's age will tolerate so they can have time to process the idea. Ask them about their feelings so that you may elicit their concerns, uncertainties, and challenges.

Include your child in planning the move. Lay out some of the details and include your child in planning. If practical, take your child on the house hunting trip so they can see for themselves the new place, and observe your excitement. You may identify a key factor in selecting your new residence that may not have been apparent without your child's participation.

Confirm ties to old friends. Most children are most concerned about losing old friends, and the uncertainty of making new friends. Assure them that they will never lose their old friends - that's why friends are so special - and encourage them to exchange addresses, phone numbers and email. In our age of Facebook, Twitter and the like, there are many more ways in which kids can remain in close contact with friends in the departure city.

Join in discovering the new location. Spend time walking the neighborhood with your kids. Accompany them to their first day at school. Early on, take them on tours of the area so they get a sense for their new geography. Studies show that even adults adjust far better to a new location if they quickly develop a strong sense for how to navigate to important landmarks - the grocery store, the children's museum, the city park.

We are convinced that children can grow and mature in subtle and important ways in a relocation. But they can't do it alone - it's a family, and team, effort. Our destination consultant will have information on resources to make the transition positive.