It looks like my husband will be getting a job transfer, which means that we’re probably relocating soon. How can we help our children adjust to the move?
Answer: Relocating has a huge impact on children. It’s a significant life change that, for many children, can be almost as stressful as losing someone to death. A child’s sense of loss often goes deeper than parents realise. They may struggle with anxiety about losing familiar surroundings, like their room, or have trouble leaving friends behind. And some children may even feel angry with their parents for forcing such a drastic life change upon them.
First of all, if your move occurs during the holidays, help your children find social connections before the next school year gets underway. Plug them into a community as soon as possible. The faster they develop some relationships, the sooner they’ll settle in and feel comfortable with their new surroundings.
On the emotional front, don’t play down the changes they’re going through. The generic “everything will work out” probably isn’t the best approach. Encourage them to express their fears and concerns openly and honestly. And whatever you do, don’t deny or minimise what they share. That will only increase their sense of isolation and frustration.
Also, remember that it’s normal for some children to experience a temporary regression in behaviour after a move. They may act unusually agitated or irritable, or you may even see a drop in their grades. Keep a close eye on them, but don’t panic. They likely just need some time and space. But bear in mind that they probably won’t adjust to their new situation overnight. It could take a few weeks — or for some children, several months. So be patient and understanding, but take heart. Life will eventually normalise again.
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