Edited translation of an article published in Maariv on 8/8/10 – נעבור את זה: איך לעבור דירה נכון עם ילדים
How can I best prepare my child for moving?
“Remember that changes that may seem small to us as adults — such as rearranging the furniture, for example — are significant for a child, especially if he or she is young, ” notes Barkai, a psychologist who specializes in educational psychology. “Children differ in their coping resources and their adaptation skills. Children with special needs, for example, may, in some cases, have more difficulty in making a transition and will need more mediation and preparation.”
A family that, on one hand, shows resilience by expressing optimism and, on the other hand, is sensitive to the feelings of children, will be more likely to cope well with the move.
When is the right time to move?
Children love routine and regularity, so it is better to make transitions gradually and not to overload them with additional changes at the same time.
Schedule a move during summer vacation, so that the children do not need to leave in the middle of the school.
Do not schedule a move in the last days of August, but rather, during the earlier stages of the summer vacation, to allow for easy organization and adjustment before entering the new school system.
How to prepare a child for a move?
- Explain to the child why you’re moving, where you’re moving to, and how the process is going to proceed, in order to give them a sense of control over what’s happening.
- Discuss positive elements of the move.
- Tell young children only a short time before the move, to minimize stress and anxiety.
- Tell older children earlier (and explain your considerations in deciding on the move), to give them time to say goodbye properly to their social network.
- Read younger children books about moving and take advantage of that time to discuss the move, and their feelings about it.
- Encourage older children to read books about moving, and to discuss these books with you.
- Make a farewell party, so that all members of the family can properly say their goodbyes.
- Bring toys and objects from your previous house, even if it means taking up more storage space in a suitcase or in the cargo container. Familiar things help children adjust more quickly to an unfamiliar environment.
It is important to legitimize children’s feelings of fear. Rather than saying, “Do not be afraid, everything will be fine,” it is better to say, “It’s natural to be afraid of a move, but we will do everything to help you.”
How do I help my child become familiar with new surroundings?
- Unpack your child’s possessions first, so that he or she will have a sense of stability and regularity.
- Take your child for a walk around the neighborhood, so that he or she can become acquainted with the new surroundings.
- Check out the neighborhood playgrounds, kindergarten, school and stores.
- Obtain a list of some of the children who will be in his or her class, and make contact with them during the summer.
- Register your child to a camp with other local children who will be attending school with him or her during the school year.