Magazine article Work & Family Life

Planning a Move? How to Help Children Cope

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Planning a Move? How to Help Children Cope

Article excerpt

Every year, one out of five U.S. families moves. We move because we want to or because we have to, and either way, it's stressful. Moving can also be a positive force that helps draw families closer together. It can teach children coping skills. It can also show them that, even while an upheaval is taking place, life can still be "normal."

Age makes a big difference: generally speaking, the younger a child, the easier the move. Here's what you might expect:

A three-year-old. Young children respond mainly to how their parents feel. Although they are unable to think about change abstractly, they sense friction and tension. Young kids need to be reassured that their parents will keep them safe.

A seven-year-old. School-age children have already learned about transitions to new classes, teachers and schools. They know how to find comfort in books, games, TV and friends. Include them in discussions about the move. Encourage them to say what's really on their mind: "Can I take all my stuff?" "Who will sit next to me at lunch?" A twelve-year-old. Kids this age fear the loss of their friends. They may also feel angry with their parents about moving. Talk to them about how to stay connected with old friends and make new ones at school and outside school.

Before you move

Stay calm. Children take their cues from adults, so try not to communicate a sense of cha$s, though you may be feeling it. Stress the positive aspects of the move for everyone involved.

Explain the move. Even a young child can understand basic facts: "Mommy got a new job and we want to live closer to where she works. …

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