Make Moving with Kids a Positive Experience

Moving isn’t easy for adults but it can be especially difficult for children. But since Lake Hartwell is a great place to live, I think I can help make the experience a positive one for you and your family.

If you think your children are having trouble adjusting to the idea of moving, you can help make it a positive experience. It’s mainly about having the right attitude.

Perhaps you’re moving because financial success has allowed you to purchase a bigger, better house in a nicer neighborhood. Or maybe you can now afford bedrooms for each child and a pool in the back yard. Today people live in a house for an average of four years and then move on as their careers allow. That short time span is only a small percentage of the lifetime for a 30- or 40-year-old, but the same four years is half the lifetime of an eight-year-old, and it includes almost all the years he or she can remember. To kids this house may be the only home they have ever known. This is their house; the place where they feel safe and comfortable and thoroughly at home. A house is much more than a roof and walls to a child. It is the center of his or her world. A move threatens to take that security away. The familiar friends, schools, shops and theaters, the streets, trees and parks — all will no longer exist for them. Everything will be different and they will live in someone else's world.

The impact of a move on a child usually starts about the time he or she first hears about a possible move and often continues until the new house becomes home, and memories of the previous place fade. Most teenagers see themselves as adult members of the family and will probably feel they have been left out if they don't hear everything from the first day. But it is probably not a good idea to tell toddlers and preschoolers until they have to know. There is no point in making them worry far in advance. Be sure to announce the move in a positive way.

You can do this by saying how proud you are that Daddy's company has chosen him to manage a new office at Lake Hartwell. Talk about what a beautiful place Lake Hartwell is, how good the schools are and how friendly the people are. Tell them about how nice the new house will be. Ask them what the favorite things are in their lives now and then try to recreate them in the new home. If the new house is too far away to allow a visit by the entire family after it has been selected, show the children pictures of it. Videotape it, if possible.
Emphasize the positive views and be sure to include pictures of each child's new room. Since children can quickly see the negative sides of most situations, parents must plan to deal with their children's worries and fears. The children will lose friends they may have known all their lives. They will leave behind their sports teams, their clubs and their dancing teachers. They will have to start over in a new place, making friends, getting accepted and fitting into different groups. Younger children need protection from fear of the unknown. Listen carefully to their concerns and respond quickly to allay their apprehensions. Find those anxieties and address them.

The best tactic is to get the children actively involved in the whole process. Don't just promise to let them decorate their own rooms, take them to the paint store and let them bring home color swatches. Shop for comforters and towels and carpets.

They must leave old friends behind, so find ways to make that parting easier. Plan a going-away party and let them invite their own guests. Take pictures of everyone and make a scrapbook. If a child is old enough, send him or her out with a roll of film and a camera with the assignment to photograph the views they will want to remember. Some relationships will be extremely difficult to break and these will demand careful, thoughtful consideration by both parents. How, for instance, do you move a 16-year-old 1,000 miles from her steady boyfriend? ...

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