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How to Prepare Your Kids for a Move

Courtesy USAA

Moving is a major life event for adults — and even more so for children. As you plan your move, follow these pointers to help smooth their transition to a new community.

Explain why you're moving.

As candidly and clearly as possible, let your children know what's prompting the move.

Acknowledge their feelings.

It's only natural for your child to feel anxious about a move — after all, you probably are, too. Rather than dismissing their feelings, let them know you understand. Then brainstorm with your child to help them come up with ideas for addressing their concerns.

Find some good books.

There are many children's books that address children's concerns about moving in a positive way.

Demystify their destination.

The more your child feels familiar with their future surroundings, the more relaxed they'll be. Use photographs, maps, community web pages, chamber of commerce brochures and local newspapers to give them a better feel for the community. Highlight the advantages, but don't shy away from discussing any sacrifices.

Take them on a reconnaissance mission.

If possible, bring them on an advance trip to the area. Explore the neighborhood, local shops and recreation areas. See if their new school offers an orientation program. If not, a simple tour will go a long way toward making them more comfortable.

Let them help with decisions.

Find practical ways to let your children play an active role in planning the move. That way, the move will feel less like something that's happening to them and more like something they're participating in.

Consider letting them linger.

Moves that happen in the middle of a school year are trying for children and more so for adolescents. If it's practical, you might consider letting older children stay with relatives or trusted friends until the end of the school year.

Give ample opportunities for good-byes.

As they prepare for sad farewells, teach your children how friendships can endure, even if they're moving away. Help them collect their friends' phone numbers, mail addresses and e-mail addresses so they can stay connected.

Pack "must-haves" separately.

As you start boxing things up, isolate emotionally significant items like a special book, blanket or stuffed animal so your children can access them throughout the move.

Give them a social jump-start.

The sooner they're involved in school and extracurricular activities, the faster your children will create new friendships. If you move in the summer, getting them involved right away can guarantee they'll find friendly faces when they enter their new school.


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added 3/21/2010

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