To children, moving can be a traumatic experience, especially if it means moving away from family and friends. Know up front that one of the most important things you can do when announcing the news is to be calm and upbeat. Your children will naturally take notice of your attitude toward moving, and if you're anxious or angry about the change, they will be, too. In addition, as you prepare to tell your children about moving, keep these ten tips in mind:
1. Tell Your Children About Moving as Early as Possible
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One of the immediate questions your kids will probably ask is, "How long have you known?" In fact, to your children, moving may seem like a decision that "should" be made collectively, even though -- as adults -- we recognize that that's not always possible. However, being up front about the situation, as early as you can, shows consideration for how the move will affect your kids.
In addition, make sure that you're not giving your children too much information about the move, particularly if the change has been set in motion by foreclosure or financial hardship. Knowing such details may lead to increased anxiety, just as you're trying to foster a calm attitude toward the impending change.
2. Tell Your Kids How You Plan to Nurture Their Existing RelationshipsAs you can imagine, your kids are also going to want to know -- immediately -- how, exactly, they are going to be able to maintain the relationships that are most important to them. Therefore, you should be prepared to provide specific information about how often your children will be able to see the other parent, and how you intend to help them nurture their continued relationships with important family members and friends. Be particularly intentional about letting your children know that you've given a lot of thought already to how you're going to help them keep in touch with loved ones.
3. Factor in the Possibility of Using Technology to Stay in TouchAre you going to allow your children to use email, instant messaging, or social media to stay in touch with their friends? If they are old enough to use these types of social technologies, and they show an interest in communicating with their friends in this way, it can help to somewhat temper the blow of moving. Granted, it's not going to make them feel 100% better, but being able to imagine how they're going to stay in touch can help your kids as they begin to absorb the news about moving.
4. Don't Make Promises You Don't Intend to KeepAt the same time, make sure that you're not promising your children that after moving you'll make an annual cross-country trek to visit their old friends, unless you're fully prepared to follow through on that promise. Know that whatever you say now will be remembered, so don't try to temper the news with a promise you can't actually deliver.
5. Choose an Appropriate Time to Tell Your Children About MovingWhen you tell your children about moving, you're going to want to make sure that you have a lot of time to talk and answer questions thoughtfully. It's certainly possible that your children won't want to talk right away, but making sure that you have at least one full, uninterrupted hour, or more, to spend talking about it, if they choose, shows respect for the scope of this news and how much it will impact them.
6. Be Prepared to Share Accurate School InformationDo your homework ahead of time so that you can tell your children right away what school they will be attending. In addition, being able to look up the school online, and see actual photographs of it, can help to put your children's minds at ease about moving.
7. Be as Specific as You Can About DatesIn addition, be prepared to tell your kids exactly when you'll be moving, if possible. If you're not yet sure of the dates, be honest with them about that, but be careful not to estimate a date that may end up being grossly inaccurate.
8. Help Your Child Visualize Himself in the New LocationOne of the things that you can do to help your kids adjust to the idea of moving is to help them visualize as much as they can about the new location. For example, have pictures on hand of what your new home will look like, or be prepared to share ideas about how they might decorate their new rooms. If your kids will experience clear benefits to moving, such as having their own bedrooms for the first time ever, share those details, too. The more you can help your kids "see" themselves in the new location, the less anxious they will feel about the concept.
9. Make Time to Say Good-Bye in Ways That Matter to Your Children Before MovingThe importance of good-byes can not be understated. When the time is right, talk with your children about how they would like to say good-bye to their closest friends. If possible, consider hosting an event in your home where they can invite their friends to gather and celebrate the times they've spent together, or create a scrapbook your kids' friends can all sign. Letting your kids know that you've given their need to say good-bye considerable thought is another way to show your consideration for the impact that moving will have on them.
10. Allow Your Children Time and Space to Absorb the News About MovingEven if you're personally excited about moving, it's very possible that your children will resist it. In fact, they may be quite angry. Therefore, make sure that as much as you're making the effort to be available to them and to answer their questions, you're also giving them space to process their feelings and get used to the idea. One thing that can be especially helpful is giving each child a journal to write about how moving makes them feel -- and promise not to read it unless they choose to share it with you. It's okay for your children to feel differently about moving than you do, and allowing them to have those feelings will help them come to a point of acceptance and even, potentially, see the good in your impending move.