When it comes to preparing your child for a stressful move, what is the best way to proceed?
Here are some important ways to get your child excited about making a big move in their life.
Also, here are some of the best ways to handle the different ways your child may react. Once the whole family is on the same page, the move will be much smoother!
With these tips, you are good to go!
How To Get Them Excited
An important thing to remember about children is that they react best to positive reinforcement. This has been a common trick for most parents when it comes to disciple.
However, the same logic can be applied to stressful situations like moving. The first thing you will want to convey to your child is that this move is not a punishment.
Children tend to place a great deal of blame on themselves when it comes to big changes in their lives. It may take them a while to realize that the move is not a bad thing. And, it may take them even longer to know that it is not a reaction to anything they have done.
The best way to achieve this is to get them excited about the move.
When they see the move more like a fun family adventure, they will approach it as a fun game.
This is also a great way for them to feel more involved in the process. Children can sometimes feel left out of big life changes.
So, how can you get them excited about the move while still letting them feel part of the process?
Here are some great examples to help your children feel looped in:
1) Little Designers Get Excited
It is important to remember that children are imaginative by nature.
One of the best ways to connect with your child on their level is to harness their incredible imagination. This is also one of the best ways to make them feel like they have a voice when it comes to moving.
A great way to make them feel like they are an important part of the process is to have them show you want they would want from a new home.
The best way to do this, for a child, is to visualize it on paper. Sit your little one down with a bucket of crayons and markers and some paper. Have them draw for your what their dream house would look like.
It is important to remember that nothing is off-limits when it comes to imagination.
If they want to draw 3 pools and an elevator – let them! Stifling creativity is one way that children tend to lose trust in adults. So, let them be as creative as they want and remember to encourage them along the way.
While obviously, your child will not be designing your new home, it helps to make them feel like they have some control over where they live.
2) How To Include Them In The Proces?
While your child may not be able to control the look and the style of your house, there is one thing they can control. The thing they should have a little control over is how their room looks. Have them sit down to draw you another picture.
This time have them draw you a vision of what they would like their room to look like.
Pay attention to little details like wall colors and furniture placement. While you may not be able to completely design their room to their imagination – it is a good place to start.
Once the time comes for your child to see their new room, they will appreciate that you incorporated their vision.
This also does something very important for the child. This helps them gain a sense of ownership over their new home. Children often feel like they are not a part of the big adult decisions.
And, rightfully so!
While you can’t expect your child to make grown-up decisions, little things – like paint color – can be trusted in their hands!
Set The Frame For A Positive Experience
Your child can imagine their new home all day long, but it is important to remember that children are very visual. Perhaps a great deal of your child’s anxiety surrounding the move is in the unknown.
Not knowing what their new home looks or feels like can make a child feel stressed about a new chapter in their life.
But, how can you show them that their new life will be magical without actually showing them? The solution is easy – actually, show them! Turn it into a family adventure. This is a great way to get your child excited about any big move.
When the experience is enjoyable, the child will automatically associate good memories and feelings to the new place.
Tying in positive emotions with a stressful move is absolutely the key to a smooth transition. But, what are the best ways to turn house hunting into an adventure?
Here are some key points to make sure to hit when hitting the road:
3) What Makes The Town Unique?
If you are not only moving houses but also towns, you have a much bigger opportunity for adventure. Each town has its own local charm that makes it unique. I’ve lived in small towns that had diamond mines, waterway bike paths, and even a model train museum.
The point is, there is adventure literally around every corner.
While your child may not be excited to move to somewhere unknown, they will geek out for an adventure.
Imagine giving them the best time ever and them knowing that this is where they will spend their life. Even adults can find some beauty and magic in that.
Before you hit the road with your child, search for what makes your new town special. Explore the unique things the town offers and build some amazing memories with your child.
This also helps to give them a sense of ownership in knowing that this special place is their new home.
4) Plan A Tour To Visit The New School!
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why children fear moving is having to change schools. No one wants to be the new kid in class. It is natural to feel insecure when going to a new school.
Especially one in a small town where the children have had a chance to be friends for years.
Along with having to meet new friends, they will have to adjust to new teachers and administration. Children really rely on the adult role models in their life for emotional support. When they are not at home getting the support from their parents, they get it from their teachers.
Your child may feel sad about having to leave their old comfort system behind for a new school.
One great way to help them prepare for a big change is to visit where they will spending a great deal of their time. However, these days you can’t just visit a school on a whim. Most schools will require a heads-up before making a visit.
This is a great way to also let the school know you are coming.
This way they can be better prepared to help your child feel comfortable and relaxed during the visit. Try to focus on the things that really bring your child joy with education. If they love art, make a special trip to the art room. Whatever you can do to connect your child personally to their new school is the best way to go.
5) How To Create Great Memories (From The New Town)
The best way to get your child pumped about the big move is to get them pumped about their new home.
What is the best way to entice excitement in a child? With strong positive memories.
While finding out what is unique about a new home is a great place to start, just enjoying everyday life is also vital.
Chances are you and your family will be enjoying the local activities that are more or less mundane. These are the types of experiences that your child will really grow to cherish. Try to keep your experience local to the community you will be living in.
Give local restaurants a taste and take a long walk around town.
One of my favorite things to do when moving to a new place is to get lost. It helps you to gain a new perspective while also working to get your bearings. Your child will love the sense of wanderlust that comes along with exploring a new place.
They might be so wrapped up in the magic of it all that they will forget what they are missing back home.
Cherish Friendships And Connections
One of the biggest reasons why children have a harder time with big moves is because they are afraid of losing their friendships. And, rightfully so! These days it is getting harder and harder to be a school-aged child. This is especially true if you find that your family moves around a lot.
It is important to remember that children have a great deal of emotional immaturity. Of course, to no fault of their own, their emotions are just not there yet. This is why it is so easy for children to feel like a big change like moving is a personal attack on them.
This is also why it is so important to check in with them at each step of the process.
Obviously, their main concern is their friends and the connections they have made. But, how do you help their anxiety when it comes to a big change in their social wellbeing?
Here are some great examples of ways to help keep your children connected to the friendships they have made:
6) Find A Great Local Pen Pal
I never moved around when I was growing up so, I don’t understand fully what it feels like for a child to be replanted.
However, many of my friends moved around so I also felt like there was a rotating door of friendships to cycle through.
One thing that I found was really helpful was to keep in touch with friends.
Back in my day, nothing beat good old fashion pen and paper. However, these days, kids have it much easier!
With the rising of social media and with paper mail slowly becoming out-dated, online is the best way to keep in touch with long-distance friends. However, this can be a slippery slope for some parents. You obviously wouldn’t want to let your child get lost in the deep dark web.
But, there are plenty of “kid-friendly” applications that were made for just this purpose!
Monster social media platforms, like Facebook, are starting to introduce kid-based messaging services. These allow the child to send and receive messages from friends without putting your child at risk.
The best part about applications like these is that they are 100% controlled by the parents themselves.
Parents can set time restrictions, phone locks, plus much more! The best part about these types of systems is that it makes it impossible for just anyone to send your kid a message.
Your child will only be able to interact with people who you have approved which takes the worrying out of being social online.
7) Plan For Visits To The Old Town
The hardest part for your child will be the first few months away from their old home. This is the time when they will get homesick and really start to miss their old friends. It is important to feel this way because their old home was a big sense of comfort for them.
When they moved, they essentially lost their safety net.
So, what can you do to help your child get out of their homesick funk? Easy! Give them something to look forward to. If possible, try to plan a visit to your old town within the first six months of the move.
This will not only help your child to feel nostalgic, but it can also help them learn to let go.
They may find that they much prefer their new living situation. Taking a glimpse into the past is a great way to keep moving forward, especially for children. It is also important for the parent to remember that this feeling is short-lived. Before you know it, your child will be making waves in their new town without skipping a beat!
8) Tips For Finding Good Friends Quickly
While it is important to cherish established friendships, it is equally important to plant new ones. This is especially true for children. However, you need to keep in mind the age of the children.
Younger kids have little fear when it comes to being bold and social. Older kids are much more self-aware when it comes to making new friends.
So, how can you help your child to harness healthy new friendships?
The best way to do this is to focus on what your child is truly passionate about.
Finding groups in your new area that are geared toward youth will be vital to your child’s social development. You would want to enroll them in specific programs that they enjoy like dance, sports, and theater.
Along with the typical things a child will do, look for unique opportunities for them to socialize. One great way to do this is to look into your town’s community center.
Most towns have a local center that is locally funded and geared toward advancing the youth. There you can find programs as well as summer activities to keep your child active.
Not only will your child gain confidence and friendships, but they will also gain a sense of ownership for their new home.
Downsizing With A Child
Moving is such a special way to change your life. However, moving is also one of the most stressful times of your life. Even experts say that moving should be done under calm conditions.
But, can you imagine what the process must be like for a child? Especially since children are not as emotionally grounded as adults.
Many of the ways to help your child process a big change have to do with their mental health. However, there is one aspect of moving that children cannot always grasp. This is the concept of downsizing. Whether or not you are downsizing your actual home doesn’t really matter.
There always needs to be some sort of clutter purge no matter the size of the new home. This can be a major point of contention for children. Not only do they have to pick up and move their life, but they also have to get rid of their stuff.
This isn’t always easy for children to understand.
So, how can you help your child to downsize when they are reluctant? Here are some helpful tips and examples to get your child excited about downsizing:
9) How To Make It (More) Fun
The best thing you can do is to make a game out of downsizing. This helps a child to be involved in the process which will help them to understand it better.
One thing you can do if you have multiple children is to make it into a family-friendly competition.
For example, whoever removes the most clutter may win a special prize.
It is important to remember what the end goal is. At the end of the day, you want to remove things from your life that no longer serve a purpose. For children, this means outdated toys, old books, and small clothing.
Have them start by separating the things they no longer have a need for into piles.
Make sure to have plenty of boxes for them.
Let them pack up the things that are really important to them. This lets them know that the things that matter to them, also matter to you! When things feel like play to a child, they are more likely to take part in the process as a whole.
Set Up A Little Shop
For my children, one of the most rewarding parts of downsizing is seeing what happens to their old stuff. Make sure that your child has a say in what happens to their once beloved items.
Maybe there is a special book that they want to give a friend to remember them by. Perhaps they really want to donate all of their art supplies back to the school that helped to raise them.
Once all of the clutter is out of the way, give them options. For downsizing, there are two solid options.
Either you can choose to donate their stuff, or you can sell it. If you choose to sell the stuff, let them take a little bit of the profits.
They can then take that money and buy something they always wanted for their room.
This will also help to connect them to their new home.
If you choose to donate their items, let your child tag along! Children are very perceptive to emotions. The rewarding feeling that we get from donating things can easily be transferred to a child.
It is important that children be there for not only the hard parts of moving but also the heartwarming aspects as well.
Wrapping It Up!
One of the best pieces of advice I can give you about moving with a child is to let them lead the way. Children will tell you when they are uncomfortable or upset. It is important to let them know they are a part of the process without them feeling like they don’t have a voice.
If your child has positive memories about moving as well as good experiences with the process, the better off they will be.
This is a great way to start them off on the right foot in their new home as well! This way they will walk into a new situation with no regrets and only warm regards. Good luck.
Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.