Things you can do to help your child
Moving story book
You might like to create a moving story book with (or for) your child which explains some of the key features of moving home. Explaining what will happen at the different stages of the move can help to allay children's fears about the moving process. It can also help them to discuss and process any sense of loss they may feel at leaving their current home and environment.
You can take photos of your current home, the people and places that your child likes and is familiar with. Then do the same in the new location and put them in a moving story book prior to moving.
You can write or draw what will happen in the run-up to your move, on moving day and the few days afterwards. This can help children to become accustomed to what will actually happen and what moving home involves for them, as well as what their new home and location looks like.
You can add photos of people who will continue to be in your child's life after they have moved, and new people/places you might already know in your new location.
Familiarise children with the new home and location
If possible, visit the new home and/or place with your child, or do this online with maps and images if you can't visit in person. This enables children to become familiar with aspects of their new home and location prior to moving. It might prompt them to ask questions about what their life will be like in their new home and location.
If there are particular places you will visit, routes or routines you will follow then show these to your child and discuss them. Helping your child to visualise what their new 'everyday' will be like in their new home and location is reassuring for them.
My life book
Take photos/draw pictures of the main people and places in your child's life in your current home and location. Your child may like to contribute or add to their my life book. You might like to ask people to write messages in the book. The book becomes a record of the home, people and places that you are moving away from that you can look at frequently during the moving process.
There are likely to be some things that will stay the same after moving. It can be reassuring for children to know this and have their book to look at. Write/draw in the book people they will still see, belongings they will still have, places they can still visit etc., so that there are past, present and future aspects to their my life book.
Story books and TV programmes
There are children's books and TV programmes that focus on the experiences of children moving house. Your child's favourite book or TV characters might have moved home so you might want to search online for that particular copy/episode. I recommend reading/watching it first to check if any particular issues so that you can be prepared to discuss it and answer any questions they have.
Coping with uncertainties
There may be some uncertainties involved in your move and you might be concerned that these will impact your child. The main thing is to listen to your child's views and concerns, being honest about the things you can't answer yet and emphasising the things you do know about.
For example, you may be waiting to know if your preferred school has a place for your child. This can be very unsettling so consider talking to your child about the certainties there are in your moving situation and the things you and they have control over and/or get to decide.
It is important for children's development that they can develop their decision-making skills over time. Moving home can provide good opportunities for this, as long as children don't feel like they have to take on a lot of adult responsibilities. Think about what decisions your child can have some control over.
What can your child do and/or participate in during the process of moving home? Can they choose new curtains or bedding? Can they choose where furniture goes in the new house? Can they choose their new bedroom layout? Can they choose a playground to visit first? Getting children involved in some of the changes involved in moving house can be helpful for their wellbeing.
In my next blog post I'll discuss some of things you can do to help your child on your actual moving day. If you have some of your own top tips for preparing children to move home, I'd love you to come and share them in my free Facebook Group. See you there :-)
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Naomi Tyrrell PhD
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