Many of you who have moved at least once in your life will agree with the fact that moving can be a rollercoaster of emotions. With joy and excitement, there’s also some level of stress and nervousness that one could experience, and all these emotions are felt even more strongly by children. When taken out of their comfort zone and exposed to a new place and lifestyle, children are bound to be affected by a move.
But to what extent a child will be affected varies with every individual. While some may look forward to the move and enthusiastically help you around, there could also be a few who are sad and fearful and resist the idea of moving. Regardless of their reaction, know that moving houses is a big transition in the lives of children. Just read on to get some understanding of how does moving house affect children of all age groups, and how you could be preparing them to cope well with the move.
Discussing The Move With Your Child
The first and the foremost step you would be dealing with is tackling the issue of moving house with your child. To what extent a move will positively or negatively affect children begins right at this step. In most cases, kids aren’t actively involved in the moving process and to top it all off, they also have to deal with their regular lives getting uprooted and losing all the familiarity they had gotten used to. Naturally, such massive changes can affect the well-being of your child to quite some extent.
One of the best ways to prepare your child for the move is to discuss and talk about it. Right from why the move is happening, to how and when it will be taking place, try to share as much information as you can with your child. Try answering all their queries and questions as honestly as possible and make them feel comfortable to communicate openly with you. Figure out ways to involve your kids in the moving process and make them feel like participants in decisions involving them, like choosing the new school, designing their new bedroom, and packing all their belongings.
You will have to be receptive to both positive and negative reactions of your child and try to help them focus on the positive aspect of the move. By keeping them involved in the process and helping them get familiar with the new changes, you can help your child to cope better with the move.
How Does Moving House Affect Children Of Different Age Groups
The way your child reacts to a move will be dependent on the stage of life they are at. While babies and toddlers will have their own ways of reacting to a move, school-going and college-going children will understand the move but can have difficulty coping with it. To help you get a better perspective, we’ll be looking at each category of children separately, what effects could the move have on their development, and how you can help your child be better prepared.
Babies And Toddlers (Younger Than 6 Years Old)
Eat, sleep, burp, and repeat. This is how the routine for babies generally looks like. In comparison to older children, it is easier for babies and toddlers to adjust to a move because they are still trying to develop their bonds with people and are in the process of understanding what constitutes the world around them.
How Will Your Child React?
Even though toddlers might be more receptive to the change, they are still bound to get flustered or agitated, at least in the initial stages of accommodation and settlement. Moving to an unfamiliar surrounding can take your little ones by surprise, leaving them sad, confused, and irritated at times. Crying, extreme fuzziness, and change in the daily feeding and sleeping routines are some of the common reactions you might notice about babies and toddlers. Remember that each child will react differently to the move and will take their own pace, but your time and special attention are what they would be needing the most.
Effects On The Child’s Development
As for newborn babies and children below the age of three, the move will have close to no negative effects as long as they receive the required care and attention. They are not concerned about their surroundings or what essentials you’ll be packing for them, but what they will be looking for is your time during as well as after the entire moving process. Ideally, try to plan the move before the serious teething process begins or before they start to move and walk on their own.
In the case of preschoolers or children who’ve just set foot in kindergarten, they’ll notice the big changes in their environment but with a short attention span at this stage, they may practically have no knowledge of what the move entails. That said, a change in the daily routine and home environment can cause distress to your little one. You might notice a change in their behavior and emotional development. Children can become clingy again, throw frequent temper tantrums, and some potty-trained toddlers might even begin to wet the bed again.
Tips To Prepare Your Child For The Move
- Try to gradually introduce the topic of moving to your child. You can make use of toys, drawings, or other creative ways to make them understand what the process is like and what changes would be taking place thereafter.
- Be clear and concise with your explanation of the move. Try to answer their questions honestly while also reassuring them that exciting opportunities are waiting for them ahead.
- Involve your toddler in some activities of the move. You can help them pack their toys and books. Kids might not be willing to part with their things so you have to make sure to remind them that their things are only being packed temporarily and not just given away. You can also let your kids decorate the empty moving boxes in which they would like to pack their things.
- Pack a small box or a separate backpack with all the essentials your toddler dearly needs and can’t do without. Apart from a separate bag of diapers, food, and other essentials for your baby, also pack a special toy or their favorite blanket that will help keep them calm during the moving process.
- If it is feasible, try to visit your new neighborhood and house a few times before the move. Let your child get familiar with the surroundings and the people around. You can also carry a few toys or books to leave behind in the new house during each visit before the move.
- Make sure to have a close relative or friend with whom your child is comfortable to help you manage the toddler on the moving day. You will already be running on your toes to make all arrangements, so you wouldn’t want your child to add to the existing chaos.
- After your move, try getting back to normalcy for your child’s eating, sleeping, and bathing routines as soon as possible. Make sure to set up your kid’s room first and try to resemble it as much as possible to their own room so they become comfortable with their new surroundings as well.
Pre-adolescent Children (Between The Ages Of 7 to 12)
School-going kids could either accept the move wholeheartedly or might strongly detest the move. But even if your child falls in the latter category, know that this may very well be just a temporary phase till your child gets familiar and accustomed to the new changes. It could get a little challenging for your child to understand and accept the move, especially if they’ve been exposed to the present conditions for a long time. However, it is easier to explain the motives of your move to school-going children, though it doesn’t make it any less hard on them.
How Will Your Child React
It is during these pre-adolescent stages that a child starts to develop their overall personality and build social bonds. Disrupting their comfort zone and moving to an unfamiliar location can make the child feel overwhelmed and flustered. They could either react aggressively and lose interest in day-to-day activities, or they could also shy away and refuse to interact with anyone.
After knowing about the move, your child might even remove their frustration on food; they will either stop eating or may indulge in overeating. You will have to be on the lookout for all these signs and address them at the earliest. You could consider taking the help of a professional as well in this aspect.
Effects On The Child’s Development
A move can affect a school-going child’s academic, social, as well as physical development.
Academic Development: After your home, a school might be the next place where your child spends a major amount of time. If you’re moving across states or even different cities, the child will be enrolled in a new school and this will have an effect on their academics as well. New curriculum, different teaching methods, new teachers, as well as new peers, all this together can surely get overwhelming for your child.
If your child does not feel comfortable approaching people in the new school environment, for instance, a teacher or a cafeteria staff, they will try to isolate themselves and even avoid going to school for as long as possible.
Social Development: A shift in school and surroundings naturally means a shift in the child’s social circle. They will have to get familiar with a new set of people again and establish an identity of themselves. Not just with peers, but if your child is closely attached to a family relative as well, moving away from them or not being able to meet them as often may not always go down smoothly.
A school-going child’s physical and artistic development might also be affected when moving houses. If your child is interested in a particular sport, make sure that they can pursue it even after moving to the new location. If they were enrolled in some drawing classes or other creative activities, do try and make arrangements for those at the new location as well.
Tips To Prepare Your Child For The Move
- Since school is an integral part of a child’s life at this stage, try involving them when making decisions about the new school and atmosphere. If you have the option, try looking for a neighborhood that has multiple schools in its vicinity so you can make a convenient choice for your child as well as reach out to other families with school-going kids.
- Be involved in the activities of the school with your child and enroll them in any extracurriculars that they might be interested in. However, don’t try to push your child to get involved immediately; instead, give them some space and respect their decisions.
- Summer is ideally a good time to move with your school-aged kids after the completion of the academic year.
- Try arranging a farewell inviting all the close friends of your child to encourage proper goodbyes. At the same time, remind them that they will still be in touch with their friends through video calls and even in-person visits during holidays, if possible.
- Let the kids help in packing their own room and pitching in ideas for setting up their new room. Ideally, you should try and set up your kid’s room first so they can feel safe and comfortable in their own place during the post-move settlement.
Teenagers (Between The Ages Of 13 To 18)
As with some other general talks about life, discussing moving houses could be one of the trickiest topics to deal with teens. Adolescence, or teenage as it is popularly referred to, is a very sensitive stage of development in a child’s life. From physical to emotional, there are already a lot of changes that they go through, and having to move houses in between all of this can get overwhelming for most of them.
How Will Your Child React
If your teenage child has spent a considerable number of years at one particular location, there are high chances of them resisting the move. They must have become comfortable with their social circle and might even be involved in a romantic relationship, because of which they could be highly detesting the move.
One good aspect about children this age is that you can speak more clearly with them and tell them all the relevant details of the move. They might react negatively and give harsh reactions; slammed doors, hunger fasts, vows of silence, and angry retorts are some of the common teen reactions. But in all of this, it is important that you let them know you care about their concerns and respect their space and opinions.
Effects On The Child’s Development
Like we mentioned before, teenagers are at a very delicate stage in life when physical, mental, as well as emotional changes are taking place within them. Adding a move to all of this will definitely have an impact on your child’s development.
Academic Development: If you’re moving long distance, your child will most likely have to change their school or college. This could have some effect on their academics as well since every school and college offers different curriculums and have different teaching methods. In addition to working on and maintaining their grades, teenagers will also be focused on gaining the goodwill of their friends, teachers, and classmates.
They might tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to prove their worth in academics, in sports, and in extra-curriculars. Teenagers might also experience a lack of motivation to attend school or college, or take part in any school activities, which could take a toll not only on their academic development but also on their mental well-being.
Social Development: Changing the social circle of your teenage child will be met with a heavy heartbreak in most cases. Not only do teenagers get strongly attached to their close group of friends but may also be unwilling to leave behind their established social circle. In addition to their peers and teachers, teenagers may also be closely attached to different family members living around. It is important to address the change if the frequency of contact or the mode of contact is going to change after the move.
A sudden change in their social life can emotionally affect a teenager and can even make them withdraw into a shell. It is important for you to have open communication with your teenage child and help them deal with their psychological and social concerns.
Tips To Prepare Your Child For The Move
- Open communication is extremely crucial especially when dealing with teenagers. As soon as your decision to move has been finalized, it is important that you convey the same to your teenage child and discuss the upcoming changes that would take place. Teenagers will have a higher level of maturity as compared to younger kids, so you should be encouraging questions and discussions throughout the move planning as well as the actual process.
- If your child hasn’t taken the decision to move very well, back off and be patient with them. Give them their space and time to understand the situation and at the same time let them know that you’re there for them and that you care about their concerns.
- Try planning the move activities keeping your child in the loop. Tell them about the opportunities present at the new location and explore the new neighborhood with them to find out facilities and activities they might be interested in. Let them be involved in the process of finding a new school and try to get them acquainted with neighbors or children of the same age around.
- Assign meaningful tasks to your teen throughout the moving process. Involve them in the packing of your household as well as the designing and setting up of your new home.
- If you’re at liberty to choose a convenient moving date, make sure to complete the academic year and only then plan the move. If there are important events like homecoming and prom that your child is interested in attending, try postponing your move till then, or at least figure out a way for them to be able to attend those events.
- Arrange for proper goodbyes or a farewell party with all the close friends of your teenage child. Let them enjoy the company of their buddies and also remind them that they will be able to stay in touch with their friends even after the move.
- Even after settling down with the move, make sure to reach out to your child time and again to see how they are coping up with the new changes. Observe their behavior and if you notice any irregular changes, try addressing those by talking to them. You can also consider taking the help of a therapist or a professional if needed.
Is Moving House Traumatic For A Child?
Moving is an overwhelming experience for all of us and even more so for children. In most cases, a child may not even be a part of the moving decision which can make it more difficult for them to accept and adjust to. Different age groups of children react differently to the move, which can also be traumatic in some instances. You can refer to some of the tips that we’ve shared above to help your child adjust to the move. In all cases, extra time and special attention are what is needed for all children facing the transition.
How Do Children Cope With Moving?
All children may perceive a move in their own way resulting in varied reactions. Some children who are actively involved in the moving process will be able to cope and adjust to the change faster than those for whom the moving process has been very sudden and unplanned. As is observed in quite a few other dimensions as well, how well a child copes with moving will also be dependent on how they observe the adults coping with the move.
For instance, if you have a positive and calm approach towards the move and communicate openly with your child, there are better chances for the child to cope with the move as well. Give your child enough space and keep an open flow of communication to help them gradually cope with the move.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Moving House?
The first and the biggest disadvantage of moving house is the high cost associated with the entire process. From the cost of a new home to the cost of the actual move, there are myriad expenses that add up even before you even realize it. Secondly, moving brings along a lot of changes to your social life as well. In some cases, you might even be moving away from your friends, family, and loved ones which could affect your social life to some extent.
Lastly, the process of moving requires a lot of time and effort from your end. Right from planning for the move, taking care of packing, unpacking, and other formalities, to rearranging and settling down after the move, all these aspects demand a lot of time, effort, and resources too. That said, moving can also be a new and exciting chapter in your life, and with some careful planning and effort, you can definitely make the entire experience worthwhile.
Whether you’re moving for the first time or the tenth, every moving process ignites a whirlwind of emotions in children and adults alike. The only difference is in the way each one reacts and copes with it.
In the case of children, such changes in these fragile and immature years can genuinely be challenging to deal with. But as a parent or a guardian, all you need to do is deal with your child patiently and give them enough space and time to adjust. All children do have their own ways of dealing with situations, just make sure you’re available for them whenever they need you.