Its moving season and between the search for a home, the offers and counter-offers, the packing and the craziness of the actual move, the last thing parents need is the added guilt of knowing their children are stressed out too. That’s why TheRedPin enlisted advice from Registered Social Worker and parenting expert Sari Shaicovitch to mitigate moving stress for moms.
Shaicovitch offers a wealth of Do’s and Don’ts to help children transition to their new home:
Terrible twos to frustrating fours:
- Child’s Play: Use toys and drawings to explain what is going on. It’s very important to appeal to children on their cognitive level so that they somewhat understand what is going on instead of just confusing them.
- No Rush: If the new home is nearby or vacant, encourage your child to bring something over, such as toys or games, each time you visit to the home. This will allow them to slowly acclimate to the new space.
- In with the old, in with the new: Set the room up with the child’s input, and if possible, use the same furniture from the previous house. If new furniture is purchased, let your child feel empowered by giving his or her input. For instance, narrow down the choice to two styles, and two colors that you would be happy with. Then ask the child their preference. It will make them feel grown up and important!
- Change is good – but not always: Don’t make any other major changes around move time, like taking away pacifiers, cutting naps or toilet training. These things can wait until the anxiety from the move dissipates.
Younger children, up to age 10
- ‘Sell’ your house: Introduce your kids to a new home with pictures that show them all of the great features – a big backyard, their new room, the fun playroom. When children can visualize a new environment, they’ll feel better about the change. Have them draw their own pictures of the house too.
- Cruise Control: Kids like what’s familiar, so taking them for a fun drive around the new neighbourhood can do a lot to lower their anxiety. In addition to their new house, point out parks, playgrounds and splash-pads they’ll enjoy once you’ve moved. Better yet, take them to the local splash-pad on a hot day and let them play with some of the children from the area. New friends will make the move smoother.
- Sweeten the deal: What better way to get your child excited than a taste of some of the local cuisine. Take a walk to the neighbourhood ice cream parlour, bakery or candy store for a delicious treat that they’ll be able to enjoy more often.
For older children, 8 years and older
- What do you think?: Let them have a say in the search. Ask them they’d like to see in a new home or neighbourhood. Include them in online searches, open houses and viewings. Involving them from the outset will make them feel they had some control over the process and decision making.
- Defuse School Daze: If the move involves a new school, try to move during summer break so as not to disrupt the school year. If the move must occur at another time, do whatever possible to keep your child in his or her current school for the remainder of the year. It is best to avoid compounding stress with too many changes at once.
- Lead the “Pack”: They may complain about chores, but children like and need responsibility. Shaicovitch recommends putting them in charge of packing up their own rooms. Let them label their own boxes, decide what gets packed, tossed or donated, and let them do it on their own schedule. The responsibility will empower them and give them a positive start in their new space.
Even with all of this advice, remember that no matter the age of the child or the distance of the move, this is a major change for everyone, so be sure to give your child – and yourself! – time to adjust.
About Rokham Fard
At fifteen, Rokham Fard moved to Canada with his family and had to learn a new language, culture and make new friends. He studied Computer Science at the University of Toronto and at 21
became the employee of the year at a Fortune 500 company. He decided to tackle entrepreneurship right after graduation, which eventually lead to co-founding TheRedPin.com