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Are you getting ready to move to a new home? It can be quite intimidating, even for adults, and much more so for our children. I wanted to find out some advice from a professional on how best to prepare little ones for a move to a new home. I spoke with Lisa Donsker, MC, LPC, with Arizona Child Psychology, and she gave me some great starting points to help children with the transition.
It's important to make sure your child has enough time to process the move and get excited about the new home, so don't tell your children that you're moving unless it's a definite event. Lisa advises: "Let them know with enough time to have closure with their current home and have time to dream and plan for their new one. " For instance, making sure the young ones understand that their beloved items are coming with them, as well as pets, furniture, etc. Sometimes children struggle with understanding what 'moving' exactly means.
(It's hard to tell but they're both squished into a tiny box - it was really cute.)
Another great way to help your children transition is to spend some time going over important or special events in your current home. Maybe talk about where your children took their first steps, or spoke their first words. As for older children, Lisa states: "Older kids may want to do this (review memories) with friends too. Discuss how you plan to keep those types of special moments alive in the new home. Also, discuss ways they can continue to connect with current friends."
Another way to help with the transition to a new home? "Take a picture of your old home, yard, room, or special place and frame it to make it part of the new house. Bring something from the old house to the new house can help make a connection for kids, (tree swing, door mat, plant, etc)." Your children can and should be encouraged to be a part of deciding what special objects to bring. Kids also might want to do a special activity before leaving their current home or neighborhood, and Lisa says this should be encouraged.
She has advice for parents, as well, which is important to take to heart: "Your attitude toward the move will set the tone. Keep your mind open and it is likely they will too. Share your own losses and sad goodbyes related to moving so kids know you understand. Most of all, be compassionate and listen without judging their feelings. After listening, encourage them and assure them you believe they are strong enough to handle things and you will help in any way you can. Then, rev them up for a fresh start and new beginnings. Remind them that wherever you go together will become a home."
Moving can be a great learning experience, and I hope with this advice, you're able to conquer the fears and trepedation that come along with moving!
Lisa Donsker is a Master of Counseling and Licensed Professional Counselor with Arizona Child Psychology, which is located at 10210 N. 32nd Street, Building C, Suite #215 in Phoenix.