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Big Changes & Big Feelings Q&A: Moving

Big Changes & Big Feelings Q&A: Moving
Dominica Fox-DeMarco, MA, NBC-HWC
Dominica Fox-DeMarco, MA, NBC-HWC

Mar 18, 2024

Moving is a lot of things. It’s exciting, it's new, it's stressful, it's time-consuming, but it can also be scary - especially for kiddos.

Whether it's for a job relocation, a fresh start, or a shift in family dynamics, moving happens for many reasons and not always at the most opportune times. Regardless of the circumstances, we've got your back with guidance on supporting your kids through it all.

In our latest installment of the "Big Changes & Big Feelings” series, Brightline Senior Behavioral Health Coach Dominica Fox-Demargo, MA, NBC-HWC, answers your questions and provides actionable advice to help your little ones navigate the journey.

Q: How should kids be involved in the decision to move?

  • Lead with honesty about why you’re moving and include a timeline of where and when it will be happening. Allow kids ample time to process the news by telling them your plans to move as soon as possible.

  • Keep an open dialogue with your children by offering chances for them to weigh in on decisions leading up to the move. This is also a great practice to keep once you’re settled in your new home.

Q: What considerations should parents take (regarding children) when deciding to move?

  • Always taking your child's feelings into consideration is important. Checking in with how they’re adjusting once you’ve moved. Checking in with how they feel about the move upon telling them and what concerns they have will help validate their feelings. When parents listen and hold space for all types of feelings, this helps children feel seen and heard. With a new move, this will also ultimately help them feel they are a part of the decision-making process.

Q: When/how do you tell your kids that you're moving? 

  • Give your children as much time as possible to digest the move.

  • Honesty is the best policy. Kids can sense when you may not be being genuine. Be open and positive about why you’re moving.

  • Kids may have a hard time with uncertainty and transition. Laying out how you will be there to support them will help them feel included and as though you’re all doing this as a family unit.

Q: What can you expect them to ask?

  • Depending on the developmental age and personality, some kids may not have questions, and some may have a lot of questions as they process the news. Some example questions may be around leaving friends, routines, changing schools, or familiarity of your area.

Q: What feelings might they have? Now and in the future?

  • Worry, disappointment, loneliness, or anxiety. For some kids it may take time for them to process the news. Once you’re moved, it may feel really comfortable and unfamiliar for some kids. Allow those feelings to be present and try not to force positive feelings.

Q: What steps will happen that they can expect?

  • Being direct about what will change.

  • Changing schools

  • If the move is due to divorce (see our divorce article)

  • What area they’re moving to

  • How this will impact friendships and regular routines

Q: How can you ease the transition? 

  • Before moving, create a ritual to honor the memories made at your old home. Maybe that’s through a goodbye party, making a scrapbook, or letting your child decide on something creative.

  • Talk about what you’ll miss. It’s helpful to acknowledge aspects of your old home you’ll miss. It acknowledges the child’s loss of familiarity. 

  • Talk about what you’re looking forward to about moving. Things to do, new community to connect with, or the beauty of new beginnings.

Q: What are some important dos/donts?

  • Do be positive, but not dismissive of the mix of emotions that may arise

  • Do involve them in the process by encouraging your child to help with packing or deciding what color they’d like their new room.

  • Do a tour of the new neighborhood and school. 

  • Help them make friends in the community and encourage after school activities to meet new friends.

  • After the move, do help them stay connected to friendships they may be missing. Encourage your child to write a letter to a friend or they could have a zoom meetup.

  • Do continue to check in with your child’s feelings after they’ve started a new routine at school and in your new home.

For more guidance and support on navigating big life changes, get in touch with one of our coaches or therapists to learn more. Sign up today.