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How to Help Kids Cope with a Move

Learn how to help your children cope with a move in this Howcast video about child anxiety issues.


I'm going to talk about how to help kids cope with a move. There's plenty of times in their life when children sometimes have to move. Usually it's not their choice, it's their parents' choice, so you have to realize that they may or may not be on board with whatever this move and journey is. You may be very excited about it; they may not. There's three parts to a move really to think about, there's before the move ever happens, there's the actual move, and then there's after the move in terms of moving in and getting settled.

So before the move, you want to talk to your kids about what's going to happen and get them involved. Now again, you want to make sure that you have some details and concrete information, otherwise they're just left to worry and imagine and have lots of questions with no answers. So you want to be able to talk when you have some answers to questions, even if you don't have everything buttoned up just yet. And then involve them. Have they gone to visit the place? Can they? Can they pick out their room? Can they pick out what's going to be in their room? Can you also talk about the timing of the move? Certainly, for some children, depending on their age, there's better times in a school year to move, and there's worse times. Sometimes that's related to a sports activity and sometimes it's related to academic activities. Then, like I said, get the kids involved by maybe looking on the internet, going to visit the place, finding out about it, getting information, finding out the kinds of museums or the kinds of activities or water parks there are there. So you can think about what's going to be the same and what's going to be different from their every day life, because helping them with that contrast and that comparison can help them visualize and get prepared for what's going to happen.

Now, when the actual move happens, just a couple of things to think about is how you're going to do the move, how long it's going to take, when are you going to get there. And especially, the younger the child, the more you want to pack their things last, because that means at the other end, when that moving truck shows up, their things are going to come out first. So they have their things to play with while everybody else is running around and unpacking.

Then, after the move, you want to think about getting everyone adjusted to the place. Sometimes, before you leave, you want to already set up that one visit back, that first visit back for the family or for the child with their friends. And they have something to look forward to in terms of staying connected. But you also want to make sure you can help them get connected to their new place. You may need to do some legwork for setting up systems that are supporting your family. If a child has learning or emotional problems, get your resources, get your doctors in place. Find out about sports activities. Find out about the things that they did where they were and how they can do them where they are going to. And then, an interesting thing to do is help get acclimated. Get involved maybe in an extra-curricular activity. Get involved in a religious organization, a community organization. And you need to model for your children how you are making friends, how you are getting involved, how you are getting connected to this new place. And then, for your kids, a very interesting, fun thing to do is have them plan that first visit from that friend from where they just left. So what happens is, when your child is now the host in their new home town, they have to figure out what's fun. They have to make it a good visit. And somehow they will then start to get acclimated and perhaps feel a little bit better about showing off their new place instead of just thinking sadly about where they were.

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