5 Ways to Support Your Child During a Move

Moving to a new school, a new house, or even a new city can be overwhelming for anyone.  But when children have to move, the…

Moving to a new school, a new house, or even a new city can be overwhelming for anyone.  But when children have to move, the task becomes even more difficult and emotionally stressful as most children lack the experience and coping mechanisms to help them transition from the familiar to the unknown.  

As a child who first moved from Vietnam to a refugee camp in the Philippines then to America in the late 1980’s, I remember feeling lost, scared, and uncertain of everything around me. I had so many questions because I didn’t know what to expect or what our new home would look or feel like.  It took me many years, but I finally began to feel belonged and settled in America after I learned English and made friends at school and at home.

Now as an elementary teacher, I welcome students who are new to our school and city every year as I remember those same emotions from moving as a child.  If you are planning to relocate, here are 5 ways to support your child during the move.

  1. Be Open and Honest

Share any details that are appropriate for your child to know about the move but also be direct and open.  Tell your child where they are moving to, their new school, and what their new environment will look like.  Show them pictures or videos and help them become more familiar with their new surroundings even before moving.  Sometimes children just need to know what their new home looks like and what they can expect.  Use the internet as a resource as many cities have videos to showcase their landmarks and history.  Every school should also have a website that you and your child can look through to become more acquainted.

  1. Encourage Them to Share Their Feelings

There are many uncertain feelings that come with relocation.  Encourage your child to share any feelings that they may have through conversations or by drawing it out or writing it in a journal.  Use the writings and illustrations as a way to start the conversation to address any questions or concerns before the move.

  1. Create a Memory Box

Moving doesn’t mean that your child has to forget everything.  Encourage them to collect pictures, notes, small toys, or anything from their friends, family, and teachers that they can take with them to hold close to their heart and remember forever.  

  1. Help Them Stay Connected with Friends and Loved Ones

By writing letters or communicating by phone or Facetime with their friends and loved ones, children can still feel connected with whoever they left behind.  This also reminds children that even far apart, friendships can still continue to grow and blossom.

  1. Explore Your New Home Together

One of the best ways for children to become more familiar with their new home is to create plans to explore and discover it! Research the history of your new home and all the fun things that you and your child can do together.  The more that children know about their new surroundings, the more comfortable they will feel about the move. This also gives your child a way to meet new friends and start anew.

Moving can be challenging, but it can also be an opportunity for your child to grow and experience new opportunities.  Addressing your child’s concerns and questions, affirming their feelings, and then working together to become more familiar with your new home can help make the move more manageable and even more fun!

Book that Helps Children Process Their Feelings with Moving:

WHERE WILDFLOWERS GROW, inspired by my childhood, this moving book explores the emotional struggle of moving from Vietnam to a refugee camp in the Philippines to America and the joy in discovering there’s always hope in new beginnings by WaterBrook & Multnomah.