You might be looking forward to this move, but your child might feel exactly the opposite. It’s hard to leave behind friends, sport teams, and a community that he has known. How can you help?
1. Focus on the positive
According to the website healthychildren.org from the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Explain how the family will benefit from the move. This is an opportunity for her to live in and learn about a new city, perhaps even a new country, and its people. She may be exposed to new cultural traditions and interesting and different ways of life. It also is a chance to meet new people and make new friends.”
2. Prepare your child emotionally for the move
Inform him of the move when you know it is certain. Give him time to say goodbye to his friends. Take photos of his friends, his room, his home, and local landmarks. Ask your child how he is feeling. Then accept his feelings, even if they are negative. While it might be hard to hear, honest emotional sharing can help your child move on. You can share your feelings about the move as well.
3. Read books and tell stories about moving
My Bedtime Story series, [Brenda and her Big Dog Duke](http://getbedtimestories.com/storyworld/brenda-and-her-big-dog-duke), centers on a move from a neighborhood to the country. Reading how Brenda adjusts can help your child with the transition.
A picture book I recommend is A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts, illustrated by Hyewon Yum, published by Candlewick, 2016. It tells the story of a boy, Hee Jun, and his struggles to adjust to his new home when his family moves from Korea to the United States of America.
A book for beginning readers is Lily’s New Home by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez, published by Lee & Low, 2016. Lily moves from the suburbs to New York City. You can find other books by searching online. Books help to start discussions about the practical and emotional aspects of moving.
4. Be aware of the timeline
Healthychildren.org states that the timeline for initial adjustment is about a month. “The stress of moving is greatest about two weeks before and after the move.” Knowing that the stress won’t last for an extended period of time is reassuring. Give your child age-appropriate tasks related to packing and unpacking. The website recommends to, “Be sure to take some breaks to relax and play.”
5. Get your child involved in activities
Look into community sports, boys and girls clubs, and other organizations that host activities for your child’s age group. Check with the library, museum, and school district. Discuss the possibilities with your child. In which ones would she like to get involved?
6. Visit the new environment
If possible, visit the new day care or school you child will attend before the move. It will give your child a chance to meet new classmates and familiarize herself with the building. It will give you a chance to find out more about the curriculum, after-school activities, and to meet her teacher.
7. Invite a friend
Once your child meets someone he would like to get to know better, set up an adult-monitored time when the kids can get together to play. The setting could either be at your home, a park, or other activity, appropriate to their age. This type of play — outside of a school setting — strengthens friendships and helps your child adjust to his new home.
8. Volunteer at a local charity
Offer to walk dogs at the animal shelter. Serve at a soup kitchen. Walk in a charity fund-raiser. Doing something with your child to serve your new community will help form a bond not only with your child, but with your new community.
9. Keep in touch with friends
Help your child keep in touch with a friend from your old neighborhood. If you are close enough to invite your child’s friend from your old neighborhood, plan an afternoon or a sleep over within the first few months of your move.
If you are not close enough for a visit, there are a number of other ways to keep in touch: phone calls, letters, emails, social media, and more. Your child’s circle of friends will grow. This highlights the old saying, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
10. Consider owning a pet
Like Brenda, in my Bedtime Story, Brenda and her Big Dog Duke, you might consider choosing a pet for your child after a move. There are lots of considerations in owning a pet that must be taken into account. Who will take care of it, feed, walk, and clean up after it? Do you have the time, the disposition, and the desire for a pet?
For my main character, Brenda, an only child who moves out to the country, Duke’s companionship was crucial to her happiness.
About the Author:
Amy Houts has moved 20 times in her life while growing up and as a mother with young children. She hopes to stay in her present home for many years. You can often find Amy’s Australian Shepherd mix, Gina, by her side, either on the sofa while Amy is writing or walking in the countryside near their Northwest Missouri home. amyhouts.com