Moving Time? Tips to Help Children Manage a Move Positively.
Moving Tips for Families with Children
By Laurel Gregory Global News
The Johner family is once again packing up and moving. Professional hockey player Dustin Johner has been signed with the Belfast Giants, and will be bringing along his wife, Amy, five-year-old daughter, Georgia, and two-year-old son, Luca.
It is hardly an uprooting. The family has been on the move since the children were born.
“We had Georgia in Växjö, Sweden and then we moved to the Stockholm for two seasons. Then we moved to Västerås, Sweden and then had Luca there,” Amy Johner said.
The family decided to move south to travel more easily by car with the kids.
“We took the opportunity to go to Austria. We went to Villach, Austria and we were there for two years. Now to the next step, to Northern Ireland.”
The parents ease the transition for their children by involving them in the packing process and educating them about where they’re going.
“You just try and give them as many things to think about and get excited about as you can, because you know that they are leaving grandparents and cousins and friends from here,” Dustin Johner said.
Calgary psychologist Joanne Ginter says how children adapt to the move can be influenced by their age.
“Younger children are usually attached to their parents and they don’t have that same sense of loss, but middle school age children and definitely teens really have that sense of loss.”
Lori Collins Burgan wrote Moving with Kids: 25 Ways to Ease Your Family’s Transition to a New Home after moving her family seven times in five years.
“Children move every day and kids are resilient. They’re going to survive a move, even if you don’t do anything to help them with that. But you don’t want your kids just to survive, you want them to thrive.”
Tips to make the transition easier:
Allow them to grieve
“They are leaving behind people that they love, places that they’ve enjoyed so it is really important as part of that process – before they can move on to something new and exciting – that you give them a chance to say goodbye to the people they are leaving behind, the places they are leaving behind and just feel a sense of sadness and not try to pretend that that isn’t a part of the moving process,” Collins Burgan said.
Don’t downplay emotions
“You don’t want to minimize your child’s feelings,” Collins Burgan said. “If you say something like, ‘Oh, everything will be OK, you don’t have to feel sad about it.’ Well, yes they do. If they are feeling sad, let them feel sad.”
Give them the chance to make decisions
“For most kids, moving isn’t their choice. Whether they are happy about it or unhappy about it, so it’s important to find things along the way that the kids can make decisions about that will help them feel better and make them part of the move.”
Collins Burgan says decisions might include when they want to tell their friends, what kind of a goodbye party they want to have or how they want to decorate their new room.
Collins Burgan recommends getting out in your new community as soon as possible. Meet your kids’ teachers, go to the hubs where children congregate and meet the neighbours.
“I have a daughter that’s very athletic… so I talked to the teacher ahead of time and just told her about my daughter’s personality,” Collins Burgan said. “So she was able to seat her next to a girl that was also very athletic and very similar in personality style. My daughter is now 25 and they are still very good friends.”
Collins Burgan says when she has met kids who have had difficulty or negative feelings about a move, she finds their parents mirror that perspective.
“You have to focus on the aspects of the new environment and new house and new neighbourhood that are as good or better than the last place you lived. Every place has its unique strengths. Any place you live, you’re going to be able to find great things about that community so you just have to focus on those things.”
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