family moving guide: children problems
Your family’s move can be an exciting time for your children and for you. It can also be a stressful and sad time. Your child may have different feelings about your family’s move: scared about going to a new school, excited about your new home, sad about leaving old friends or angry with you about moving. Every year, one out of five American families move. One of the most important issues to anyone with kids is their reaction to the news that theyre moving, and their adjustment to the new home. Being informed is very important to children. One of the worst mistakes we can make as adults is to assume that kids dont care or wont understand the details. eeping them “in the loop,” consulting them about choices whenever possible, and including them in the family game plan will work wonders toward their adjustment. Checklist for Helping your Child Adjust Child Care Checklist Child Care Finder School Reports Childrens Books on Moving Being the “New Kid” Moving Abroad with Kids Other factors depend on the childs age: preschool children: Kids under the age of six may worry about being left behind, or being separated from their parents. If you go on an orientation or house-hunting trip beforehand without the children, its important to reassure kids this age that you will be back; bring something unique back to them from the new town. Its very important for them to express their feelings and fears about the move. Give them a job to do — have them be responsible for boxing up their favorite toys, and “labeling” their boxes with crayons and stickers. ages 6 to 12: Elementary age kids are usually most concerned with how the everyday routines of their lives are going to change. Showing them pictures, videos and magazines of their new home will help a lot, especially if you can find new places in advance for the things they like to do. If your child takes dance lessons, find & share information about the new dance studio she can go to. If he takes karate, or plays soccer or baseball…even if her favorite thing to do is the park or the pizza parlor, find these places in your new neighborhood and get brochures, pictures or videos. teenagers: These kids are most concerned with fitting in. They may react angrily to the move, even insist theyre not going. This is usually due to the total lack of control they have over everything important in their lives–friends, school & jobs–being disrupted. These children can be very worried about making new friends, and what will be different in the new school. They are curious about the clothing, hairstyles, bicycles, cars, etc. that kids in the new city will have. Pictures of all these things are very helpful, so if you take an orientation trip be sure to take many detailed photos/videos of the schools they will be attending. other tips for making the transition: 1) give young children an entertaining travel kit for the move. 2) give older children a diary for recording the trip & move. 3) give children of all ages a special address book & stationary set for keeping up with old friends. 4) take videos of the new home if the kids wont get to see it before the move. arrive well before the movers so kids can explore and become acquainted first. 5) give children a chore to do, such as working on their room (younger), supervising little siblings (middle), and painting or arranging furniture (older kids). 6) take a break with the family as soon as possible to explore the museums, sights and recreation in your new city. 7) arrange a visit to new schools and a meeting with the teacher before the actual first day of attendance. 8) encourage the children to bring new friends home. Contact us for reprint permissio BEING THE “NEW KID” – WHAT PARENTS CAN DO TO HELP by Anne P. Copeland, Ph.D.; reprinted with permission from BR Anchor Publishing Some children and teenagers love the chance to attend a new school and be the “new kid.” They like feeling special. And they like the fact that no one knew them when they had that awful short haircut, before they learned to read, or when they were overweight! Other children find making the transition to a new school difficult. For them, friends are hard-won and not easily replaced. A crowd of new kids elicits shyness not excitement. These children react to this challenge as they do to many other transitions in their lives: with reluctance. In some ways, how children react to a new school is out of their parents hands. Some children are naturally more at ease in new situations than others. And the structure of schools and the host country society also directly influence a childs experience. For example, about 17% of school-age children in the U.S. move to a different home each year, so being a “new kid” is pretty common. And in most American elementary schools, all children start in new class groups each year with a new teacher and children they may not know. From seventh to twelfth grades, most children move from class to class (and teacher to teacher) for different subjects throughout the school day, so “new kids” may not be very obvious. Still, there are some ways parents can help: (1) Visit the school with your child ahead of time. Most schools will let you walk around and find the toilets, the lunchroom, the gym, etc. Ask to see the room your child will be in. If the teacher is there, it will be a nice, quiet moment to meet. (2) Play in the school playground. Even if your children do not “make friends” immediately, they will start to understand how children there look, dress, talk, and play. And the other children will begin to recognize them. (3) Let academics take a back seat for a while. Learning occurs more easily when children feel comfortable and stable. In the early days of a new school, it may be more important for your child to make friends and learn about the school than it is to get top grades. Remember that mastering a new culture, a new language, new friendship patterns, and a new educational system are forms of learning. These may be more important life lessons than the math, science or history facts in the classroom. (4) Help your children make friends. This is not simply so that your children will have more fun. Children who have problems with friends are more likely to have problems with school learning, problems with adults, and problems later in life. Children do not need lots of friends-some like big groups, some like having just one close friend. What is important is that they learn to share, cooperate, be kind, and feel accepted. You may need to take the initiative and invite another child or another family to come to your home or do an activity together. (5) Be proud of your children. Children are accomplishing many major tasks in the early days. They may be learning a new language as well as new educational goals and methods. And yet they soon acclimate academically, make friends, and play ball alongside the others. Children are resilient, flexible, and creative. They will use these skills more easily if they feel your support and pride.