You got the new job! That dream home you’ve been looking at online is now within your reach and you’re excited!
Now the hard part … how to tell your child you’re moving. Here are some tips we have gathered to help you through these changes.
How to Break the News about Moving
You have already spent time internalizing the ramifications of moving, sorting and working through your emotions. How your children will handle this will depend on their ages and unique personalities. With younger children you may need to explain what it means to relocate-draw pictures, act it out, or just find a way to explain the process in the simplest terms.
Explain Why You’re Moving
There are a lot of reasons people sometimes have to move and it’s not always pleasant as in the situation of job-loss, divorce, and foreclosure. However, regardless of your situation, it’s best to try to explain as much as possible how you reached the decision to move and why it is for the best. If your child is older, explaining the basis for your move will be even more important. Your child will know that there has to be a reason for moving. If you aren’t up front with your child, it can make a tough move even tougher on them.
Pick a Good Time in a Comfortable Place
You want your children to be relaxed when you break the news to them. Telling them on the way to school would come under the bad category. You want them to be as comfortable as possible and you want to provide time afterwards to be able to react and talk to you about it.
Here are a couple of good times and possible places to tell them about the upcoming move:
- At night after dinner (perhaps your child’s favorite meal)
- On the weekend
- During a vacation or holiday – a festive atmosphere can add significance to the situation while maintaining a comfortable experience.
Books You Can Share to Explain Moving
Great Schools has some good advice on getting the conversation started by recommended reads for preschoolers and elementary school age kids.
Toddler through Kindergarten
Moving House By Anne Civardi, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright
UsBorne (2005), $4.99
This is one of the Usborne First Experiences books, and it takes a factual, positive approach to moving. For young kids who are wondering what to expect when they relocate, this is a nice, straightforward choice. You won’t find any value judgments (nothing about how much fun it is to make new friends or how hard it is to leave behind old ones), just a simple outline of what happens when you move.
Preschool through second grade
I Like Where I Am
By Jessica Harper, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
G. P. Putnam’s Sons ( 2004), $14.39
“Cause I like my room and I like my school/And we live real close to a swimming pool/And my best friend lives around the block. /Why move to a place called Little Rock/ Anyway?”
This is a great, up-tempo book about a boy who is sad to be moving away from all the things he loves. The rhythm of the text holds throughout the book, making it a fun one to read out loud. The story follows a familiar arc, with the boy ultimately coming to appreciate the good things about his new home while still treasuring the old.
Mr. Rogers Moving
By Fred Rogers
G P Putnam (first edition, 1987), $7
Mr. Rogers is all about neighborhoods, so who better to turn to when you have to move out of one? Unlike other books on moving, this one isn’t a story but has a more direct approach — it explains the changes children might see when relocating (packing, the moving van, etc.) and addresses the emotions they may be feeling. Mr. Rogers points out the excitement about the new place and reassure kids that they can stay in touch with old friends by calling and writing letters (the book predates email!). And as always, he has words we can all live by: “Wherever you are, you’re still the same person.”
Sharing the News of Your Move with Older Children and Teenagers
Older children and teenagers have more established social lives and friends and can find it particularly hard to process the news. So prepare for complaints, possible bad feelings, or guilt trips they may try to place on you. (Remember that you’ve had a lot more time to work through your changes) Some experts believe that once the news settles in getting your kids involved in the move, as early as possible, will ease their anxiety and possible reluctance. Share as much information as you can about your new location. Challenge the kids to research cool things to do in St. Louis, fun places for kids, great shopping areas, sports activities, etc.
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Tips on Smoothing the Way for Uprooted Children
- Don’t jump to the conclusion that your children will, in fact, resist moving. They might surprise you and jump at the chance to make a new start. At any rate, don’t bring up the subject defensively. Deliver the news with a positive attitude.
- If, however, the announcement causes real trauma, sympathize sincerely. Listen to the anticipated difficulties and search for solutions together.
- Don’t disallow expression of those understandable feelings of hurt, anger and frustration. Instead, tactfully try to put a time lid on the emotional period. Let your kids know that you, too, feel sad and frustrated at times. Talk about how to deal with sadness and fear.
- If possible, consider making your move during the school year. This will give your children a chance to make new friends immediately. Moving during the summer has advantages, too, but can prolong grieving many long, lonely months in a strange town – and increase the grieving about separation from old friends and former haunts.
- Be as lenient as possible regarding long-distance calls to “back home.”
- Enlist your children’s participation in the details of the move. Try to keep them from feeling they have no control over events.
- Encourage your children to join groups, clubs and other organizations in the new location that are in line with their special interests.
Look for as many avenues of “adventure” as you can find to convince your children that doors are opening rather than closing. On house-hunting trips, bring back lots of photos, literature and brochures – especially about things they are concerned about. Better yet, take the children along on house-hunting trips, if possible.
Relocation to St Louis or Just Changing Houses