As the end of the school year is upon us we think about summer fun, new adventures and change. Change? Yup. Summer and fall seem to bring about big life changes. Life changes like moving. Perhaps your family is the one on the move or your child’s friends are moving away. What do you do? Here are a few ideas to make the concept of moving a bit easier for your young children.
Play It Cool
Keep the outpouring of love and support to a minimum. Okay, maybe not exactly, but leave the over-emotion out. “You must be so sad to move away from all of your friends. I know how hard this is for you. This must be so awful.” “Your best friend is moving away. You play with him all the time. I know that you are going to miss him so much now that you won’t see him every day.” These sentiments come from a good place, but they can put ideas and emotions into your child’s head that may not have occurred to her.
What you can do is be there for them, “Yes, your friend is moving away. What do you think about that?” “I know you are sad. Is there anything that I can do?” Keep your responses simple and short. Use questions like What do you think about that? How does that make you feel? What would you like to do? The idea is to let your child lead the conversation and for you to stay on his emotional intensity level.
If your family is the one moving, keep your stress around the kids to a minimum. You can be honest about a little sadness or nervousness, but then add some positivity. Keep in mind that kids are very perceptive and see and hear you even when you think that they don’t. If your kids are in the room, keep your grown up stress venting for later.
As grown-ups, we may want a lot of time to celebrate or get in last outings with friends who will be missed. Kids, on the other hand, will only get more and more anxious envisioning the life change to come. If your young child’s friend is moving away, hold onto that information. Talk to her about a week or two before the friend’s move and
stick to the point – just give information.
Kids can get anxious, upset, and/or angry if they have weeks to stew and sit with the thoughts of a good friend leaving. If your child does ask about a friend who is moving, be honest. As I mentioned above, keep it short, “Yes, Billy and his family are moving to a new house. They are very excited to have a bigger yard for their dog.” Leave it at that unless your child continues. Let your child lead the conversation. Go to the emotional level that they take you. (Yes, I am repeating myself but this is super important.)
If you are the one who is moving, it may be a bit more difficult to keep the information on the down low. Try to hold off talking in front of your young kids until the wheels are in motion. When you do talk about it, be specific. “Yes, we are moving to a house that will be closer to my job so I can get home earlier and hang out with you. Your toys and bed and the furniture will come with us to the new house too. Do you have any questions?” Young kids often want to make sure that things that they love are coming with them. Family members, animals, toys, favorite snacks, the TV… (No, really, they will ask about that stuff. Try not to giggle.)
Come Up With A Plan
In this high tech age, there are many ways that friends can keep in touch. FaceTime, Skype, emailing pictures, and on and on. If the move is not far, families can set up play dates and mark them on a calendar so that the friends can see when they will be able to play with each other again.
All in all stay calm, be understanding, but also understated and let your child lead the conversation (I know, I know, yes, I am repeating myself again). It is fine to say, “Yes, this is a sad time.” You do not want to say things such as, “Yes, this is a sad time. A friend moving away is awful. I know how sad you are. You won’t see your friend everyday. You will have to make new friends….”
That being said, it IS a big deal to your child. Trying to quell emotions by making light of the situation may backfire: “People move all the time. It is a part of life. You have lots of friends. You will be fine.” Is that how YOU would want to be comforted? That would not be the path that I would want a loved one to go down in order to comfort me. Life is full of
adventures – some fun, some not so fun. Moving can be a not-so-fun one for kids at first, especially if you are the friend being left. Be understanding, be understated, be the person that you would want someone to be to you.
Brandi Davis, ACC, is a professional Parenting Coach, Parent Educator, and Author of O.K. I’m A Parent Now What? She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and be sure to catch her parenting podcasts on iTunes. The goal of Brandi’s practice is to bring respect, calm communication, teamwork, and FUN into the home or classroom. To discover all that Child and Family Coaching can bring to your family stop by www.childandfamilycoaching.com.
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