Planning to Move Houses? Here’s How You Can Prepare Your Kids

Preparing kids for moving helps both parents and kids to make a fairly smooth transition.

Published
Parenting
5 min read
Preparing kids for moving helps both parents and kids to make a fairly smooth transition.
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As the school year ends it is time for holidays and relocation. People with transferable jobs mostly move in summer vacations.

Relocation can be extremely overwhelming for kids. Whatever the reasons for the move, a child may not be able to comprehend and dislike the decision.

It becomes complicated for adolescents who are exploring their identity and are looking for acceptance from friends. Even for younger kids, a new place brings local trends, in language, fashion and customs. The kid groups have unique unwritten rules that need to be adhered to get accepted and can be daunting.

Preparing kids for moving helps both parents and kids to make a fairly smooth transition.

Share the News

Sharing the news about relocation as soon as you can is crucial. It gives your child some time to adjust. Create a comfortable atmosphere when the whole family is together.

Dinner time could be a good choice. Communicate the news gently without getting emotional.

Discuss the reasons for the move and patiently answer all questions. Initially it will be shocking or unsettling but patience helps in handling it.

Dealing with Grief

Kids may experience a cycle of grief as relocation is the loss of familiar surroundings, home, and especially friends.
Kids may experience a cycle of grief as relocation is the loss of familiar surroundings, home, and especially friends.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Kids may experience a cycle of grief as relocation is the loss of familiar surroundings, home, and especially friends.

Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler in their book, On Grief and Grieving, explain the five stages of Grief - stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Denial

Your child may behave, speak or act as if the news is false.
Your child may behave, speak or act as if the news is false.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

First stage of grief is the denial. Your child may behave, speak or act as if the news is false. This is normal and there is no need to worry. It is a way of mind to protect itself.

Just be patient and kind.

Anger

This is a challenging phase to handle. Your child may exhibit anger towards people they love most including yourself. At this time, parents need to be gentle but firm.

Be clear with your child about the appropriate expression of anger.

Encourage your child to play outdoors. Exercise helps to dissipate the anger energy.

Bargaining

After the anger stage, comes the bargaining stage. Your child can come up with plans to stay back in the city with friends or relatives. Your child can bring their friends to discuss this with you. A firm and with a no-nonsense attitude will convey that this isn't possible.

Accepting and understanding it is as a passing phase helps to handle it calmly.

Sadness

This stage is characterized by lethargy, loss of appetite, sulking and silent crying.
This stage is characterized by lethargy, loss of appetite, sulking and silent crying.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

By the time this stage arrives, you will be stressed with the logistics of relocation. Dealing with a depressed child then, can be overwhelming.

This stage is characterized by lethargy, loss of appetite, sulking and silent crying. However, it is required to accept the change and move on.

Acceptance

The last stage is about accept the move and a new life. Don't accept your kid to be happy, though. There won't be all sunshine suddenly from gloomy clouds. It will be a gradual transition from deep grief to less consistent grief.

There will be good days and bad days and slowly the bad days would become lesser.

Handling the Move

Transitions are challenging, and a concrete plan of action will make it easier. Even after planning and working on it there will be some difficulties.

Build your “RAFT"

‘RAFT’ stands for - reconciliation, affirmation, farewells and thinking destination. 
‘RAFT’ stands for - reconciliation, affirmation, farewells and thinking destination. 
(Photo: iStockphoto)

"RAFT" is an acronym coined for stages experienced when moving by the American sociologist, David C Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken, authors of Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, to help people relocate.

‘RAFT’ stands for - reconciliation, affirmation, farewells and thinking destination. 
  • Reconciliation is about leaving the place in peace and not any unresolved conflict with us. Help your child to make a list of people who they faced problems with. Your child can pray for them and let go of the negative emotion.
  • Affirmation is thanking and acknowledging friends, neighbours, teachers and shopkeepers. It is about telling them that they will be greatly missed. You will be surprised how people respond to love and respect.
  • Farewells or good-byes are important. They help us to deal with the grief of ending a life phase, impermanence of relationships and losing places we know. Honouring these moments helps kids to move forward.
  • Think destination.This is most difficult. When you are sad about leaving the place you called home it is impossible to think of a new place as home.

To make this easy, encourage your child to create a scrapbook of ideas for their new home. If you can get pictures of your new home, print and glue them.

Planning a sunny corner or reading nook for the new home helps to connect with the new place.

Offer Freedom of Choice

Children are often attached to their stuff, and parents should avoid giving away the child’s belongings without permission, especially at this time.

Offer you child the freedom to select and discard stuff. Even if your child keeps most, it’s fine. One additional box would hardly make a difference, but your acceptance and respect for their decision will make them happy.

Journaling

Journaling greatly helps in this process.
Journaling greatly helps in this process.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Encourage your children to give words to their emotions. Describing the feeling of overwhelm, anxiety or anger is therapeutic. Teach your children that experiences are mixed bags. There always is a positive side and a negative. It not about denying the feelings but accepting, experiences and slowly letting them go.

Journaling greatly helps in this process.

Make Memories

Make the last days in the place you are relocating from, memorable.
Make the last days in the place you are relocating from, memorable.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Make the last days in the place you are relocating from, memorable. Visit your favourite food-joints, visit friends or call them over.

Go to that corner shop to eat the muffins your child loves, or visit the pavement market and buy things. Make it a time to treasure and add it to your happy memory box.

As a parent, you have to remember that your child will experience a multitude of emotions while moving, and your unconditional and non-judgmental support will sail you through this transition.

(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer, and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting and travel.)

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