Preparing Your Child for a Move: A Guide
By Mount Paran Christian School in Cobb County
Whether it’s a move two miles down the road or 800 miles across the country, the stresses of moving are the same, from choosing where to live to finding new service providers to packing and hauling your household goods to your new home. When you factor in preparing your child for a move, the planning challenges are only amplified. Parents may wonder about the quality of schools or finding the best pediatrician. But children are often more concerned about the social aspects related to being in a new place: “Will I make friends? Will I fit in and be accepted? Will I like my teachers? Do I get to take my toys with me?”
No matter their age, children can feel some stress and anxiety about an upcoming move to a new location, and it can manifest itself in different ways. Young children may begin to act out or have a difficult time sleeping at night. Teenagers may become more moody or ask lots of questions. Even if you are moving locally and will remain in the same schools, your children must still face the hassle of having their items packed and inaccessible for the move. This may create a fear that their favorite book or toy will be lost in the shuffle. Deep cleaning the house before a move to dispose of clutter can exacerbate these fears.
So what’s a parent to do? The guidance counselors at Mount Paran Christian School share these tips for parents.
- Visit: If moving to a new city, if possible, take your child on a special trip to visit the new city before the transition. Or take a virtual tour of your new hometown online, making a bucket list of places your child would be interested in visiting and exploring.
- Personalize it: If moving locally, involve your child in the final stage of the home buying or renting process. Show your child the place you have picked out to live and where their new room will be. Allow your child to help choose a fun new element to personalize their new space, whether an art piece, paint color for the walls or new bedding.
- Say goodbye: Make a point to visit your favorite places with your child’s closest friends before the move. And make a plan to keep in touch to help with that early transition while your child makes new friends. For teenagers, social media sites allow kids to stay connected. Younger children may enjoy being pen pals with their best friends back home, sharing what they have learned about their new city.
- Communicate: Talk about the move before it happens. Focus on new adventures to look forward to in the new school, neighborhood or city while acknowledging the sadness of missing what was familiar. Preparing our children for what is ahead is helpful in facing the unknown.
- Listen: Sara Quesenberry is mom to a third grader and fifth grader at Mount Paran Christian School. Sarah offers advice gleaned from experience with multiple moves with her family: “Allow kids to be sad. Too often, parents focus on just being happy when children need the opportunity to grieve the ending friendships back home. Be patient with your children as they process the transition, just sitting with them and listening.”
- Share a story: Children enjoy relating to book characters who face similar life circumstances. Your young readers may appreciate these recommended reading resources in anticipation of the big move: www.moving.com/tips/13-childrens-books-to-help-moving-with-kids.
- Pray: Begin praying for new neighbors and friends at the new school in advance, asking God to use your family as part of His plan in whatever purpose He has for them. Seeing the big picture and the fact that God is preparing us for what is ahead is exciting. This perspective can help children shift their feelings of fear of the unknown to confidence in what God is already preparing in advance.
Moving can be stressful, but it can also be an exciting time as your family begins a new chapter. The best bet for ensuring a smooth move for your children is to maintain a positive outlook on the new adventures ahead.
To learn more about Mount Paran Christian School, visit www.mtparanschool.com. For more helpful tips on helping your child cope with their first day of school jitters, read more here. And, for suggestions on selecting the right school in your new community, click here.