For children, a winter move can mean leaving a school behind. It also means parting from a network of friends forged over what seems like a lifetime to them. There are ways to diminish their isolation by involving them in the moving process. Part 1 of this article focused on general winter moving tips. Today, we focus on children.
The process of moving can easily shift one’s focus from the excitement of new beginnings to the fear of starting fresh. This is especially true for children. Most likely, the move is not their choice and they may feel uprooted.
According to SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, “Some children embrace moving as an opportunity to make new friends and to learn new things; others get anxious or develop behavior problems… Children may experience anxiety and grief before, during, and after a move, and these emotions are intensified if moving results from major family disruptions, such as divorce or death.”
The most important step you can take as a parent or trusted adult is to involve them in age-appropriate moving tasks. This demonstrates trust, which is a strong bond that can significantly alleviate feelings of isolation and chaos. Children need to know that adults believe them to be responsible. Also, giving them a task to accomplish can shift their focus to a more creative mind set, opening them up to noticing small details that allow them to embrace the change. Make sure to shower them with praise every time they help. Positive reinforcement is a precious gift.
With today’s technology, children are able to stay connected with friends more than ever before. Indeed, they can often sort their feelings out more fearlessly and more honestly with peers and this is part of the transition process. Thus it might be helpful to allow communication, especially with friends whom you know to be a good influence on your child.
In addition to this, keeping a daily routine is essential. Though this can be tricky during a move, it does not necessarily mean sticking with a previously established routine at all costs; it can also mean establishing a new, more convenient routine and sticking with this for the time being. Any form of consistency provides an anchor for a child, and a psychological anchor can be just as good as a physical one. At an emotional level, perhaps, the mind cannot tell the difference.
In winter, it is likely that your move will involve getting acquainted with a new school. Do some research ahead of time. Find out if the school can offer orientation to new students. Also, ask if they might be able to connect your children with others who have recently moved and can share a positive experience with them, perhaps even begin a new friendship. Put social media to your advantage. Ask the principal whether it might be possible to connect with other parents. Once you have good recommendations, ask these parents if they would allow communication between their children and yours.
Finally, these two tips from American Van Lines provide simple guidelines to keep in mind when moving with children:
- Younger children tend to miss familiar people like a favorite teacher, as well as safe and secure environments like church, school or even their bedrooms.
- Older children, especially teenagers, tend to miss their friends and others in the community with whom they have relationships.
Most of all, welcome your children’s input and if they are interested in winter sports, make room for this as well. Take an afternoon off from packing and go skating or skiing. If you currently live close enough to your new neighborhood, take a road trip to its ski slopes or sledding hill.
Go to Part 1 – Moving in Winter – Not a Bad Idea!
Go to Part 3 – Moving in Winter – Moving Moving with Pets & Plants