If you can, show them pictures of the new house or flat and talk about what their favourite features are. Allow them to plan what will go where in their spaces, and to help you choose the layout of the living spaces through giving them choices – such as should we put the sofa here, or there? If they choose where things go, they build that space with you, together.
Encourage your child to express their emotions and listen to them carefully. Enable their self-expression through empathy. Identify the emotion and respond accordingly: ‘You feel nervous of moving because it’s a big change, is that right?’ When you identify and repeat you child’s emotions back to them you validate their feelings and enable their expression of those feelings. Shared self-expression between family members helps create an authentically connected family. Children raised in authentically connected families have better wellbeing. Ask your children about their needs and let your child know that you are planning for their needs. You can’t involve them in all the decision making but when you are with them you can make them feel important, valued, and connected through focusing both on their needs and on the decisions that they are involved in.
Put their needs first as much as you can
Big events such as moving house can take up a lot of parents’ attention, resulting in a perceived deficit of parental attention in the eyes of their child. This can add to a child’s negative perception of moving. Counter this risk by actively prioritising your child’s needs as much as possible during the moving process and explicitly let them know that you are doing this. For example, mention to your child that it should be a day for packing but that, actually, you are going to take them out to the park instead. And make the moving jobs, such as wrapping and packing, fun. Allow them to draw on and colour code the boxes, for example, pop the bubble wrap, or roll their parent up in the carpet! If it is fun, children will associate positive memories with the very act of moving and understand that cherished memories and experiences are not bound to one space but are fluid and move with them. An understanding of this mobility will offer your child a sense of security and lessen the sense of loss encountered when leaving one place to move to another.
If you found this post helpful, then you are probably moving home with kids! Good luck and all good wishes for your new home. You might like to check out my other related blog posts!
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Naomi Tyrrell PhD
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