House Moving

By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

The decision to move should not be made lightly when children are involved. Changing homes, schools, and friends can be very stressful for a child. Children are not involved in the decision-making process and often find it difficult to understand the reason for moving. They might think that their parents are being selfish and are not seeing it from their point of view.

Parents need to be extremely supportive and understanding in this case, even though they themselves are overwhelmed with the task of relocating. Some children embrace moving as an opportunity to make new friends and to learn new things; others get anxious or develop behavior problems. Moves are even more difficult if accompanied by other significant changes in the child's life, such as a death, divorce, loss of family income, or a need to change schools.

As a child grows older, he/she establishes a higher priority for his/her friends and thus finds it more difficult to move. Pre-teens and teenagers may constantly oppose the shift. Some adolescents may not discuss their misery, so parents should be attentive of the alarming signs of depression, which include changes in appetite, social withdrawal, poor performance at school, temper tantrums, difficulty in sleeping, or other dramatic changes in behavior or mood.

Children who seem depressed by moving to a new environment may be reacting more to the stress. Sometimes one parent may be against the move, and children will sense and react to this parental discord. However, most children do learn to love their new home and eventually see the benefits of the move.

Some tips to ease the transition:

It may take children and adults months to adjust after a move. In some cases, children may not like their new schools, neighborhoods, or living arrangements despite their parents' best efforts. If this happens, parents should not get frustrated or angry. Instead, they should talk openly with children about their anxieties and reassure them that their feelings are normal. It will take some time to adjust to new surroundings. If your family moves more frequently, the need for internal stability and love increases to a great extent. With proper attention from parents, and professional help if necessary, moving can be a positive growth experience for children, leading to increased self-confidence and interpersonal skills.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,