Moving home is a stressful time for the entire family, however, as parents, and with everything else we have going on, how much do we really consider the effect moving home is having on our children. Instead, we make little or no time for them, we moan at them for not helping or for getting in the way, we moan at them for moaning because “it’s not what we need right now”…but what do they need?
Children are pretty simple creatures and as a result feel safe in their familiar and comfortable surroundings. As soon as you discuss with them that they are going to be living in a new home (if they are old enough to understand this) or start packing away your belongings and emptying the house, your child is likely to become upset. It can be overwhelming for children to watch everything they have ever known disappear before their eyes, and if they are young they won’t understand what is happening. If they are older children, they may be worrying about starting a new school and meeting new friends, a child’s biggest desire is to ‘fit in’, and this worrying may cause them to be naughtier or grumpier. There are some things that you can do to help your child as much as possible. Firstly, as hard as it may be with all the stress you are under, try to be patient with your child, give them some of your time and reassurance. Let your child know that while you are moving home, everything else is going to stay the same or as similar as possible, and try to keep to this as much as possible in the following weeks. When you are packing up your home, try to pack your child’s room last so that they still have a place to play that they feel comfortable in and let them keep with them their favorite belonging, whether this be a favorite toy or a comfort blanket. Pack your child a bag to keep with them for the day and include things to keep them occupied, such as toys, books etc, drinks and snacks to fuel them throughout the busy day, and warmer clothes/spare clothes. When you unpack in your new home, unpack your child’s room first and settle them in as quickly as possible. If you are frequent home movers, and have lived in a number of different properties over the years, consider the effect that this is having on your child both in the present and in the future. Children who are moved from home to home have a tendency to not do as well at school, their grades are often lower, furthermore they tend to develop behavioral and emotional problems. Throughout their childhood and into adulthood, they are likely to become unable to form, or even know how to form, healthy and long-term relationships, they will more likely find it difficult to trust and love people and often suffer from abandonment issues. These negative impacts are intensified if your child is naturally of a nervous or timid disposition.
Adults who moved home a lot when they were children are also said to be likely to have less friend and few or no close friends, often because they find it difficult to make friends and allow themselves to become close to someone. Furthermore, they were generally not as happy as most people and sometimes even die at a younger age.
Wherever possible, try to include your child in any decisions that are made when it comes to moving home, make them feel like their opinion and voice counts and help them to not feel powerless.