Moving homes is an extremely stressful time for everyone - and children in particular! When moving neighbourhoods, they are going to have to deal with a different social scene, say goodbye to beloved parks and playgrounds and generally deal with a new environment all together. Here are a few ways you can help your little one navigate their place in your new home and adjust smoothly.
Make It Feel Like Home
Material comforts are not to be overlooked when it comes to helping your little one adjust quicker to a new environment. Whether it’s a nursery or a bedroom, put effort into decorating their new space first, as they are likely to take longer to settle in than an adult would. Blank walls and a lack of furniture can most certainly look a little scary - so get to decorating! Browse a wide range of nursery furniture online and get inspired for your new interior design!
Work With Your Child’s Mind/Imagination
You know best how your child is likely to take the news, so work with their particular imagination or mind when delivering it to them. Davina Donovan, a fully registered psychologist with many years experience working with kids, shares more on this:
“Children have a vivid imagination - they’re not yet able to determine fact from fiction. They often jump to conclusions and catastrophise, creating anxiety. They can be resistant to moving house out of fear that everything will change - their school, their room! Kids thrive on predictability and consistency - so a move out of a house or neighbourhood can be met with much fear and unpredictability. While the decision to move houses is made by parents, it is a great idea to keep kids informed along the way. Here are some tips to help reduce anxiety and make your move easier on you, and your child!
Only tell children about the move when it is confirmed: they can work themselves into a panic for no reason if you jump the gun and tell them you’re considering moving, and then it falls through;
Like climbing a ladder to the top of the slide, give kids bigger and bigger pieces of information along the way: don’t start by telling them they’ll be going to a new school, for example. Start with something easier to manage and digest such as something exciting about the new place - a park across the road, a new, bigger bedroom. Work your way up, gradually, to the potentially ‘scary’ changes;
Get them involved in the process! Kids love to have a sense of control (in a world where parents and teachers are telling them what to do) they thrive on having some say (even if they don’t really have any say, make them feel like they do). For example, let them choose a new bedspread or wall hanging; ask them what they think of the photos of the new house or neighbourhood; allow them to choose a new item to take into the new house”
Reduce The Uncertainty/Unknown
Jay Anderson, registered Psychologist, Counsellor and Play Therapist has suggestions on how you can reduce the ‘unknown’ and make your child feel more secure during the move:
"- Reassuring your child and helping to normalise the experience
- Taking photos of their room and aspects of the current house - to help them remember this part of their life
- Creating a photobook or family photo album of that part of their life
- Planning the move on a calendar and helping them be involved by sticking on each day and counting down as you would towards something like Christmas
- Involving the children in the packing and planning the move
For all of us, children and adults - the unknown can create unsurety and anxiety. The best way to manage this is to give some control and to allow some involvement in the planning/process. Depending on the child’s age they can have varying involvement in moving house. …..Other things to consider are about other additional changes (depending on the child’s age) such as a new school and losing contact with close friends.”
Encourage Them To Get Involved
As mentioned previously, getting your child involved in the process is really important - and can reduce the fear factor substantially! Barbara Bryan, owner of sneaking in a workout at the same time!
Your transition you should be smooth and simple if you follow the above tips, and are careful to be sensitive to the difficulties your child is undergoing during this period. With the right support, your little one will come out of this transition more confident and happy than ever before.