Helping Kids Settle-In After a Move
Relocating your family can be a hugely exciting experience, but also very stressful. One of the hardest things about relocating with children is ensuring they are happy and settled. Taking them away from their former life is an adventure and can build resilience, but if not managed well, can also lead to an unhappy and anxious child who just wants to go “home”.
"Every family that moves experiences some loss, sadness, and apprehension - but those feelings can be worse when families are forced to relocate. The reality is that in this economy there are a lot of negative reasons that cause people to pack up, like job transfers and layoffs," says Thomas Olkowski, Ph.D., co-author of Moving With Children.
In this post we will help dial down the stress by explaining some of the steps that need ticking off along the way.
Don’t keep the move a secret - inform your children as early as possible about the relocation. Parents should be honest when answering concerns the child may have so that they feel involved in the move. This open dialogue should continue throughout the entire relocation process. It is also important to remember that children of all ages will be apprehensive about such a big change, don’t just focus on the youngest ones.
Reach out to your new community - find excuses to meet the neighbours and bring the children or invite them over your place. Ask for advice about local schools, doctors, dentists, child-care, shops, food outlets, sports and other amenities.
Join clubs or community groups – whatever your child’s interests, encourage them to pursue them by joining the local sports club, scouts, arts society, church group or book tickets to a local show/event. The kids will be making friends while doing the things they love.
Get out from day one and experience your new surroundings - whether it’s the swimming pool, library, park, playground or community centre, introduce the children to everything the new area has to offer.
Promote new friendships – Once your child has met local kids, invite them over to play. Kids can bond quickly when they’re having fun, and a new friend can make a new location much more inviting.
Find the right school - starting a new school in a different location (or even just down the road) is a challenge for any child. Walking into the classroom as the new kid in class can make them feel like an outsider in an established community where friendships have already been formed. If possible, try and coincide your move with the start of the new school year. Most schools have well-tested strategies for welcoming new pupils and make big efforts to ensure their pastoral care needs are met. Schools will “buddy up” new children with like minded students to help them navigate the pitfalls of being a new pupil at school. No matter what age your child is, changing school is a huge adjustment; some children will settle in quite quickly, others will have more difficulty. Be prepared to offer long-term support if needed.
Stay connected with old friends from home – FaceTime, Skype and House party are all great tools to stay in touch and maintain friendships. If you can, plan a trip back “home” in the future (try and avoid going back within the first 6 months)!!
Give them time – whether you child was looking forward to a fresh start, or dreading and resenting the change, they may feel anxious and strange in their new surroundings. Be as patient and supportive as possible and take time to get to know your new area together.
The good thing to remember about moving is that most children are pretty resilient and adapt well to a move within a few months. No matter how well you've prepared them, expect them to be a little upset and allow them some time to adjust to the move. They will almost certainly grow to love their new home just as much as the old one.
If you would like more information on relocating with families or any other aspect of relocation, contact us!
Written by: Joanne Sedgwick – Client Relationship Manager and Sydney Consultant