The Emotional Adjustment of Moving for Young Kids

Moving Resource Center>>Moving Tips for Your Family

Written by Alyssa Howard,

He nodded bravely, his face belying some earnest pride in being such a big kid for taking this news in stride. But suddenly, my five-year-old brother’s face clouded with an unhappy realization. “Are we bringing my toys?” he asked my mom, clearly concerned.

Moving is an emotional transition for you, and you fully understand it. Your young kids, on the other hand, don’t have the maturity yet to process the change. Just the few years between preschool- and grade school-age children, though, denotes a big change in the way the child will take in and react to the news.

Before we get into specifics for each different age group and how to ease their transitions, it’s important to know that the way kids react to moving can be very individualized. Experts say the stress of moving usually just exaggerates the parts of your child’s personality that are already there. If your son is generally anxious, for example, that might be more noticeable during the period surrounding the move. With that said, here are some of the ways kids of different age groups typically react to moving news and how to ease the change:

Infant and toddlers
Generally, the younger the baby, the easier the move will be for him or her. It’s important to note, however, that toddlers can pick up on the palpable stress it’s likely you’ll exude right before, during and after the moving process.

Make sure you still spend adequate time with your child(ren) during the process, so they will feel the security of a routine and consistency from you, and think about certain things that shouldn’t be packed to make the transition easier for him or her (like security blankets and favorite stuffed animals).

Preschool-age kids
Preschool-age kids will have a little bit harder of a time adjusting, most likely. Initially, moving will be exciting for a child this age. But confusion often permeates the confusion, and as the scenario above illustrates, he or she may not understand who or what comes along during a move.

Definitely answer all the questions they have in the most basic terms possible. It also helps to stay positive on the move in front of them, regardless of your feelings about it. The tone for a move can be set by the parents, so this is a pretty important part. Because preschool-age children comprehend moving on a deeper level than toddlers, it can be a good idea to involve them in little ways in the moving process by trying to get their opinions on the new house and neighborhood.

School-age kids
Moving with children in grade school makes the change a little easier to explain, but brings its own set of challenges. By this time, kids often have friendships that will be interrupted by the move, and this can be a source of anxiety or sadness. On the other hand, school-age kids may get really excited about a move because some imagine a perfect scenario in the new house.

Again, make sure to involve your school-age kids in the moving process, but you’re able to do it in a more meaningful way than you could with a preschooler. Children in grade school enjoy projects, and you can appeal to this side of their development by giving them tasks with which to help you in the move. Also, a goodbye party could be a good idea as you leave the neighborhood to give your children a fun atmosphere for a not-so-fun undertaking: saying (at least a temporary) goodbye to their friends.

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