Every important decision in life comes with a lot of stress and apprehension. But however difficult it may be to make a life-changing decision, breaking the big news can often be much harder. Especially so when you fear that your plans may upset the people you care about. Moving house is a perfect example of such a tricky situation when you may find the simple task of informing family and friends about your decision extremely stressful and difficult – particularly, if you need to announce the imminent radical change to your unsuspecting children. The news may come as a shock to your kids and cause a lot of frustration and anxiety.
Have in mind that children associate their home with love and safety, so the mere thought of leaving it behind and moving someplace else may be extremely frightening for them. Therefore, you need to find a very positive and reassuring way to inform your little ones of the forthcoming relocation.
So, how to tell a child about moving?
Prepare your kids for the big change
It is a good idea to start preparing your children for a potential change as soon as moving house becomes a possibility:
- If moving locally or short distance, take the kids to visit the new place as often as you can. Don’t tell them you are about to live there yet – just explore the area together, show them interesting things, buy them nice treats, and have lots of fun. Your children will begin to associate the place with the wonderful experiences they’ve had there, so when the time comes to announce your relocation, the prospect of moving to that particular area will be probably welcomed with great excitement;
- If your kids are old enough, engage them in frequent conversations about far-away places, different opportunities, and new experiences. Do your best to awaken their natural curiosity and kindle their adventurous spirit. This way, the news of a forthcoming move will arouse enthusiasm instead of fear;
- Praise your new city at length! Point out all its advantages and mention how much better your life would be in a place like that. Who knows, maybe your kids will be happy to have the chance to live in such wonderful surroundings…
However, if the possibility of moving house becomes a certain fact, you need to get straight to the point.
Tell your children about the move as early as possible
Nobody likes being placed before an accomplished fact. Your children make no exception – telling them that you are moving someplace else in a couple of weeks and there is nothing they can do about it will inevitably result in grumbling, whining, angry retorts, or even bitter tears.
So, you are strongly advised to inform your kids of your decision at the earliest opportunity – reassure them that they are the first to know about your plans and tell them how much you count on their help to perform a successful move. This will provide some comfort and assurance that their opinions matter and their cooperation is highly appreciated. It will also give them enough time to come to terms with the news and find a way to deal with it. What’s more, you will have the time to discuss matters at length with your little ones, soothe their fears, and convince them that the change is for the better.
Being upfront about the situation shows respect and consideration for your kids – keep this in mind when wondering how to tell your child you are moving.
Have an open discussion with your children
Sit down with your children and discuss matters at length. The more you talk about the relocation, the less scary and confusing it will seem to them. Just make sure you:
Explain things in a clear and reassuring manner
Give your children all the relevant information they need in order to understand what is about to happen and why is it happening. Keep your language simple and straightforward and be as specific as possible.
If your kids are still very young, consider using their toy trucks and doll houses to make up a relocation story that will perfectly visualize your own upcoming relocation adventure.
Related: How to move house with toddlers
If you are dealing with older children, make sure you treat them with respect and dignity and keep the condescending attitude away from the conversation.
Related: How to move with a teenager
Answer questions completely and truthfully
You can expect all kinds of questions from your little ones when you break the big news. Get well prepared in advance to be able to provide adequate answers to as many of those questions as possible – be ready to show your kids pictures of your new home, to tell them exactly what school they are going to attend, to detail all the fun activities they will be able to pursuit in the new area, to inform them of the exact day of your relocation, etc.
Be honest with your children and if you don’t know the answer to a certain question, just tell them so. Be careful not to mislead them, not to exaggerate the positive aspects of your new life, not to make promises you can’t keep – anything you say at this moment will be remembered, so you should be thoroughly realistic in your statements.
Address possible anxieties
Encourage your kids to share their opinions, concerns, and fears. Listen carefully to everything they have to say and let them know that you really care about how they feel and what they think. Ask them about their expectations and apprehensions and try to come up with an efficient solution for each and every issue. Reassure your little ones that you will be there for them, no matter what, and will help them overcome any difficulty they might encounter.
Involve your children in the relocation organization
It is very important to let your children take an active part in the planning process, as well as in the actual moving preparations – packing their items, deciding on how to arrange and decorate their new rooms, gathering information about your new area, etc. This will considerably increase their self-confidence and self-esteem and will make the forthcoming change feel “less forced” on them. Besides, it will help kids better visualize themselves in the new location and accept the transition in an easier and calmer way.
Last but not least, you need to convince your children that the move means an improvement in your life.
Reassure your kids
When talking to your children about moving, you need to make them understand that they will only benefit from the change:
- Make sure your young kids know that you are going to take all their toys, books, and games with you. It is a good idea to keep their old furniture and bedding as well in order to provide a sense of comfort in the new house;
- Keep your kids’ daily routine as unchanged as possible to reduce stress and anxiety;
SEE ALSO: How to move house with a baby
- Provide as many specific details about your new surroundings and your new life as you can – knowledge about the future makes kids feel safe and strong;
- Focus on the positive – draw your children’s attention to all the benefits and opportunities your new life will offer them (a chance to meet new friends, to try out various new experiences, to engage in enjoyable activities, to visit interesting places, to explore a new area, to have a new room, etc.). Make sure there are plenty of exciting things your little ones can look forward to after the relocation;
- Adopt a calm, self-assured, and upbeat attitude – your children will notice and imitate your own attitude toward the relocation (if you’re anxious or angry about the change, they will be scared and depressed as well; if you are enthusiastic and hopeful, they will get in high spirits too). So, make sure you don’t waver on your decision and don’t express any doubts or worries about the favorable outcome of your relocation adventure.
SEE ALSO: How to move with a school-aged child
Give your kids time and space to cope with the big news
Telling your child you are moving will inevitably result in an emotional turmoil. Your little ones will probably resist the idea and get upset, scared, sad, or confused. You are advised to acknowledge their emotions and give them the time and space they need to process the information and get used to the idea of moving house:
- Don’t overreact – keep your calm and back off when your kid gets angry and frustrated about the move;
- Negotiate an agreement – grant your kids a wish in return of their cooperation (a pet they have always wanted to have, a cool new gadget they have been craving for some time, etc.)
- Promise your children to help them stay in touch with their friends – allow them to have long conversations on the phone, show them how to send e-mails or how to start video-chats, invite their friends over at your new place, visit your old city when possible – whatever is appropriate in your case (and for their age);
- Arrange proper goodbyes – host a party in your home for all your kids’ friends, organize get-togethers, take your children to visit their favorite places, help them make photos, create scrapbooks, etc.
What matters is to show your children your unconditional love and support, your consideration for their feelings and their future. Then, you will win yourself powerful allies who will turn your relocation endeavor into a wonderful family adventure.
SEE ALSO: How moving affects children