People have been moving for 80,000 years (www.smithsonianmag.com) and the average American moves 12 times (U.S. Census Bureau), but ask any child if they want to move and the answer will probably be no. Children are not equipped to picture life in new cities or neighborhoods using their imagination alone. They are also attached to current friends and even teachers. Helping them understand their fears about moving requires putting yourself in their shoes for a moment. Let’s close our eyes and step back in time.
Envision yourself, about 4 feet tall. Your senses have recently developed and your attachment to the familiar ones is enmeshed with your sense of comfort. A certain flower near your house is like a warm hug from your mother, its color and scent are distinctively yours. Maybe it comes from a lilac bush, maybe it comes from a cactus. Either way, it belongs to you. Coming home in April means seeing, smelling, and touching this plant.
Let’s take a look inside your bedroom. Beyond the “Danger” sign you posted on the door, you will probably see your bed and some kind of dresser, perhaps a bookshelf, and toys or crafts spread about the floor. When you are in bed and want to read your favorite book, you can reach over without thinking because you know exactly where you left it. Next to your pillow is a stuffed animal you’ve had since you were too small to remember.
Now open your eyes. You might have guessed by now that the two pieces of advice I have about moving and children are quite simple. Move locally whenever possible, allowing your child to remain in their home climate where birds, plants, and houses are similar to the ones they know. Whether you are moving locally, long distance or out of state, bring along all the old furniture and items that belong to your child; do not force them to throw anything away until after the move. If this is not possible, be certain to find out which things are most important for your child’s comfort and make absolutely sure you do not lose them.
Your love and support, along with as much familiar activity as possible each day in the new home, will convince your child eventually that their new life will be as safe and happy as their old one. And if all else fails, they do sell lilac scented candles…
Fun video for kids moving to a new place!