Preparing children for any change can be difficult. It could be a move, a new school, a new baby, or even going away. You want to talk to your child and walk them through the process. Despite your child going through some significant changes, there are some ways to help you navigate through this process. Ms. Tracy discussed this topic on The Rhode Show. Watch it here!
Children love structure and thrive on knowing what will happen next. So, it will help to know the area that you will be going to. Pick out places that they will recognize along the way. You want to look at places that will interest your child; maybe you locate a restaurant they would typically like to eat at or you see an interesting playground they would find fun. Talk about these places and when you are passing them your child can easily pick them out. This will make them feel excited and willing to adapt.
Speak to your child’s current school and ask if they can make a scrap book for him/her to take with them. See if you can make a contact list of friends to keep in touch with when you move to the new house and school. Help draft letters with your child so they can send those out to old friends!
Speak with the new school principal or director and ask what they can do to get children acclimated in the new school. Do they have a buddy system where they assign a current student to help guide and integrate the new student?
See if you can speak with other parents or join a parent group. The best resources for parents are other parents!
Plan a day where your child can visit the school with you. Having you by their side will put them at ease. Whether your child is 4, 8, or 15, being familiar with their surroundings will only help with the transition.
Give your child/children enough time and talk to them about moving. Let them talk about how they are feeling. Keeping all of their reservations, anxieties, and worries in will only make the transition harder for them and you! Reassure them of why you are moving and why it will be okay. Give them time to process and let them know you will try to make this change/move as easy as possible. If your child is older enough to express their concerns, validate them and listen. Keep in mind if this is a big move, the two weeks prior to the move and two weeks after the move will be the toughest, so plan time to check in with them often. If you are overwhelmed, children can sense this and tend to get anxious too! Taking time and breaks will not only help your child, but you as well. Breathe!
Let your child be involved in the move and get them excited about the move. Maybe they can pick which bedroom is theirs, or if not, an option may be to let them pick out the paint color of their room. Making their room their own will give them a sense of home within your new home. Let them help pack up some things for the new house. Get them excited about the move. If it is a minor move like a bus change, see if you can meet the bus driver or ask if there is anyone on the bus that is in his/her grade? Can they buddy up? Make sure you are including your child in details as much as they will understand. This will make them feel part of the process. If your child is a middle school or high school, point out you are closer to the movie theater, or the basketball park or that they are going to have a bigger bedroom or more places to ride their bike. This may help them get excited too. Always reinforce the positive aspects of your move.
Try to keep playdates, or extracurricular activities going, such as: dance, gymnastic class, karate, and so on. Keeping some normal parts of the day to day helps makes the process a little bit easier. Keeping bed time routines and having dinners together is good also. Children are resilient and they bounce back quicker than we would expect. Some may take a little longer than others.
Some children don’t mind change; they adapt to it with little or no fuss and move on, while others have a difficult time. You want to make sure, either way, you are including your child/children in the process of any major change. If more resources are needed, reach out to your child’s doctor or the school. Read books to your children about moving, or if they are old enough let them read and ask you questions. If you help make the process as easy as possible for your children, it will only make the process easier for you.
This article was written by Ms. Tracy, VP and Regional Director of Operations at The Children’s Workshop in Cumberland, RI.