No matter how much time we might spend talking with our kids about the possibility of moving, when the big announcement comes don’t be surprised if the inevitable is met with a great deal of resistance….or the silent treatment. Communication is the cornerstone of trust and a big part of communication is listening. Encourage your children to talk about how they’re feeling about relocating and let them know all feelings are acceptable. Make sure you’re listening as much (or even more) than you are talking. I remember a communications professor once said, “You have two ears and one mouth. You should use them in those proportions.”
Ask questions to prevent the quick and easy “I don’t know” or “I don’t care” escapism some of our kids employ to avoid dealing with their tough feelings about moving. Some questions you can ask are:
What do you love most about this house (or neighborhood or school)?”
What are the chances you’ll find something like that at our new house (or neighborhood or school)?
What one thing are you most looking forward to when we move?
What one thing are you dreading most about this move?
If your kids won’t or can’t talk about how relocating is making them feel, their answers to these types of questions can give insight into how you might best support them before, during, and after the move. Be prepared for many negative answers and follow up with something like “It’s hard to feel that way” or “That’s tough.” Stay upbeat about moving but don’t try to convince them to join you in those positive feelings before they are ready. If your kids are generally upbeat about the move, celebrate that but keep in mind the potential for a dip in enthusiasm once reality sets in.
Assist each child with preparing their room for the move. Sort out items that can be boxed away for the moving van and items that they want to keep close. Have each child create a Moving Day Must Have list. Make sure cherished comfort items like their favorite toy, blanket or pillow and those I’ll-die-without electronic devices are close at hand on Moving Day. In addition, survey your kids for favorite snack items to have handy for the trip.
Buy or have your kids create a Moving Journal. Encourage them to have friends sign the book and write their contact information in the book. Your children can record memories about places and people they’re leaving behind as well as record thoughts and feelings during the move. Younger children can draw pictures to help them record their experiences.
For other tips to prepare your family, visit http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/move.html#.
For more information about the Moving Families Initiative, please visit www.movingfamiliesinitiative.com.