telling your child about moving

Moving With Children:
Telling Your Children about Moving

When a family is planning to move, the reaction of the parents to the upcoming changes is most important. Children normally reflect their parents' attitudes. Accentuate the positive. A positive parental attitude will go a long way toward soothing fears and creating an atmosphere of excitement for the children.

  • Prepare them in advance for the move. Tell them immediately about the move and give them time to adjust to the idea.
  • Answer all questions. Explain the reasons for the move as explicitly as necessary; depending on the child's age. An honest question-and-answer session will give you an idea of the specific concerns your children have about the move. This will give you the chance to resolve their fears and let them know you are interested in their opinions and feelings.
  • Encourage your children to participate. This will give them a sense of responsibility around the move.
  • Choose a professional moving company. A company experienced in moving families will minimize your responsibilities so that you have more time to devote to your children.

With these steps, you can ease the insecure feelings some children experience when removed from familiar surroundings. It is difficult to break strong ties to the old home, neighborhood, school and close friends. But remember, moving can be a great personal growth opportunity for all family members, including children. Take advantage of the situation and make it a truly exciting experience for everyone.

Telling Your Children about Moving

We advise telling school-age children early that the family will be moving. Don't let them find out by overhearing conversations. How soon to tell them and how much to explain depends upon the ages of your children and their feelings. The major problem facing children is the fear of the unknown.

  • Infants. As long as they are comfortable and their routine undisturbed, they will be the least affected by the move.
  • Toddlers. To toddlers, a minute and a month are only words. They only need to know that the family is moving soon. The most important thing to do is to assure them that when the family goes, they go, too. Keep the tot with you as much as possible while preparations for the move are being made. Let him pack a few of his most treasured possessions even though they may be old and battered. Assisting in small ways will help strengthen the child's feeling of security, his sense of belonging and importance as an individual.
  • Elementary to Preteens. This group is particularly vulnerable to the unsettling effects of moving. Their world is beginning to expand beyond the family circle, and they are especially concerned with how they'll fit into the new environment. However, studies of fourth- to sixth-grade children who have moved several times have shown that they are often better adjusted than children who have not moved at all. They generally adapt quickly to a change in surroundings and take new experiences in stride. Their overall education seems to have benefited as a result of travel and other factors associated with family moves.
  • Teen-agers. Their social activities encompass a much wider area, and members of this age group may be disturbed at the thought of relinquishing vital interests and special friendships. For some juniors or seniors, their current school may be critical for a specific internship program or sports scholarship. If this is the case, you may want to allow the teen-ager to stay in the current location with a relative or family friend until graduation. Where doubt exists about this arrangement, a third-party consultation from a guidance counselor, clergyman or psychologist may help.

    Assist your son or daughter by finding out as much about the prospective school as possible. Contact the administrator, guidance counselor and/or athletic coach, if appropriate, for children involved in sports. Ask for the most current issues of the school newspaper, and see if a yearbook can be obtained.

Be Available
Both preteens and teen-agers may want to talk about the move and ask questions. Early discussion of the following topics should help older children adjust to the upcoming move:

  • Why the move is being made.
  • What the new location is like physically.
  • Expected advantages of the new area.
  • New friends for both parents and children.
  • Possibility of having old friends come for a visit.
  • The children's expectations.
  • The new home, particularly the children's rooms and advantages of the new home over the old.
  • When to move.

When to Move
The final discussion point - when to move - must take a wide variety of circumstances into consideration. The best time to move is when it's most convenient and advantageous for all members of the family, although the decision may depend on circumstances beyond the family's control. It’s important to let your children express their points of view. The family decision to move depends on your particular situation - it may be as soon as the house is sold, at the end of the school year, or during the school term. Remember, the heaviest demands are placed on moving companies, equipment and personnel during the summer months when children are out of school, so planning in advance and considering other times to move will be a benefit to you.

In fact, there are some distinct advantages to moving during the school term:

  • Preteens and teen-agers will make new friends at school more quickly.
  • School curricula are more flexible today resulting in a smoother transfer.
  • Some school districts have a 12-month school term with no general summer vacation.
  • It is easier to transfer school records during the school term.
  • Children will be able to enjoy summer vacation with new friends.

Once you have announced to the family that you are moving and have chosen the best time to move, you are well on your way to your new home.

Moving with children happens in stages. Read more moving advice on planning the trip to your new home or return to the moving with children guide.