- While moving can be a positive experience for a family, it often has some negative implications for the children involved.
- Moving has the most profound impact on kids over the age of 5, as it’s particularly difficult for them to leave behind friends and adjust in a new school during this important time of development.
- Ultimately, it’s important that parents provide their children with a secure and stable environment, and do what they can to make the move easier on them.
- The first step in making this move easier on your kids is keeping them informed: don’t leave them in the dark, but be honest about what is changing and when.
- Also, assist them in making a treasure chest and a memory box: the former should be filled with their favorite things and the latter with phone numbers and addresses of close friends and family.
- Finally, make sure they say their proper goodbyes to their home and have plenty of time to do so.
Moving to a new city can serve as a positive change for your life, which might explain why so many do make that move: as up to 63% of Americans have moved to a new place at least once compared to the 37% who’ve never left their hometowns. That said, moving to a new place can have its challenges too, especially for your kids. In fact, moving during childhood can have a major impact on your child’s mental health.
The impact of moving on your child’s mental health
Kids who have moved five or more times during their childhood are three times as likely to experience mental health problems compared to those who stay in their hometowns. In a study of 50,000 children, researchers found that the impact of moving is often worse for children over the age of five. This is because they have to leave behind friends and change schools during an important time of social development.
Healthy child development is best supported by security and stability across different domains in the child’s life. Key components of that stability include housing, parenting, family dynamics, neighborhood factors, peer influences, and school development. Children with unstable housing often have fewer high-quality relationships, lower life satisfaction, and a lower sense of personal well-being.
“Moving house can be a hugely stressful experience for the parents and the family as a whole as it can be associated with change in social environment,” said Foteini Tseliou, lead author of the study. “Parents need to be aware that such a change can be even more stressful for children as they may be more sensitive and less resilient.”
But what can you do to make the transition to a new town, city, state, or even country that much smoother for your child?
How to make relocation a smoother transition for your child
Parents are often the ones who make the important decisions when it comes to moving. You choose the city, the town, and the new house. This can make your child feel powerless and unstable. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can go about making your big move easier on your kids:
1) Involve your child in as many decisions as you can. One of the best ways to give your child a sense of stability again is to give them a hand in what you’re doing.
2) Make a treasure box. Have your child pack some of their favorite things into a colorful box they can keep with them during the move. This will help them feel in control over their closest belongings and give them a sense of security.
3) Make a memory book. By creating a memory book complete with phone numbers and e-mail addresses of friends, family, and babysitters, your child will be able to figuratively visit their old home whenever they need to.
4) Throw a goodbye party. It may be sad for your child to say goodbye to their old friends and neighbors, but a goodbye party gives them a sense of closure and makes them feel less like they’re leaving their friends behind.
5) Don’t wait to unpack in your new home. It can be tempting to leave your belongings in boxes, but when you haven’t unpacked it, you can make your child feel anxious as if the family is going to be leaving again soon.
Be aware that your child will need time to adjust to their new home and social environments. Encourage them to share their feelings and get involved with the move. The key is to make your child feel in control, stable, and secure.