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Moving tips: Moving with children

Help your child get through a stressful move with these tips.

Help your child get through a stressful move with these tips.

As an adult, you may be an old hand at packing up and moving across the country, starting anew in a strange and exciting place. But what about the kids? For many children, moving can be a jarring, life-altering experience. And while there's no easy way to tell a child they have to leave their friends behind, there are some things you can do as a parent to make the move less stressful on the wee 'uns.

Even a single move can lead to difficulties in school, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology. If the child is in kindergarten or first grade, around the age of six or seven, a move can be even more problematic. It is around this age that children begin to separate from their parents and adjust to life outside the home. A major disruption to this process could drive a child back to the shelter of his or her parents, delaying normal socialization. 

What do the psychologists suggest? Talk to your kids about the move. A lot. Describe your new home and all the wonderful things they'll find there. Reassure them that there will be other kids their age to play with, and new and exciting places to go. Be prepared, though. Younger kids have a very short attention span, so it's best to start early and speak often to really drive home the message.

Ask any parent and they will likely tell you their child is special, unique among other kids, distinct from the rest of the bunch. To a certain extent, this is true. Every child is different, and as such, every child will react differently to a move. Some will view it as an exciting opportunity to explore, and relish the chance to wander through a new neighborhood, meeting new people and making new friends. Some will be more reticent, scared of the challenges a move will bring and frightened of the prospect of having to start all over again. Some will be entirely unfazed.

Be on the lookout for signs your child might not be handling the move so well. Younger children may revert to wetting the bed or sucking their thumb. They may even have difficulty literally letting go, and will cling to you or your spouse. Slightly older children may become shy or aggressive, and adopt different eating and sleeping habits.

Be reassuring with your child. When the moving company arrives to take your stuff to a new home, don't stress out - children can often sense these changes in their parents and it could affect them more than you're aware. When you arrive at your new home, set up your child's room first, so they can begin to adjust to their new environment immediately.