How to Deal With Kids Who Don't Want to Move

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How to Deal With Children Who Don't Want to Move

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You were afraid of this. You have to move. For any number of valid reasons, you've made your decision to move and it is too late to change your mind. You've started to put things in motion and moving is now an inevitability. The only problem? You have kids and they're having none of it. They don't want to move, but they have to. How can you possibly stop them from hating you forever?

The kids aren't alright

In order to help your children cope with moving, you should spend some time understanding why they are so upset. Children of all ages, including teenagers (and dependents beyond that threshold) will have plenty of reasons for why moving means that their lives are over.

Here is a list of fears and concerns kids may have about moving. I will try to list them in an order that roughly corresponds to the typical age that the concern may arise, youngest to oldest. Remember that younger children's fears are often irrational. That doesn't make them any less frightening, however.
  • I like everything the way it is now!
  • I like my yard!
  • Don't take away my toys!
  • Will I ever see anyone or anything I know ever again?
  • Why are you doing this to me? Is this a punishment?
  • What can I do to change your mind?
  • This is my house and I love it and will never live anywhere else!
  • I can't leave my friends! I like them the best and will never make other friends anywhere else!
  • I can't leave my school! I was just getting used to it! What if my new teacher/the kids are mean! What if they don't have the activities I like? Will I have to retake this school year?
  • I lived here forever, leaving now would be so depressing.
  • I have a boyfriend/girlfriend! Do we have to break up now? How can you expect that of me?
  • Didn't you consider what this would be like for me and my social life? I don't want to start over!
  • Now I need to get a new fast food job!
  • Why wasn't I included in this decision?
  • Why do we have to move to that particular place?
  • You can go ahead and move, I'll just stay here where I belong. I'll crash with my friends.
If these concerns and complaints sound familiar, relax, these are very common responses to the fear that goes along with moving. Even if you have already decided to move, take a minute to consider how many of these thoughts, in some form, raced through your own mind during your decision. You can relate to your children. Now it's time to help your kids cope with the move.

Don't be cynical, especially with young children

If you are getting frustrated with your children's stubbornness about hating moving, the temptation to be short with them can grow. As an adult who is ready to move, we know that time heals all wounds and that inevitably the kids will adapt and make new friends. We also know that they will likely grow apart from their old ones and at some point that fact won't be upsetting to them at all...

Do not tell kids that they will get over their current friends

This may be true and it may be the key to how they begin to cope with the situation, but telling a young child that everyone they know will soon mean less to them is a horrible thing to do. If you do this, children will likely rebel and cling closer to their old friends while intentionally avoiding making new ones. The same goes for significant others for teenagers, except the emotions run higher and these children's reactions may be even more irrational than a nine-year-old who is going to miss his best friend.

Don't ignore them

A move can seem like the end of the world for kids. You really are altering their whole life and there is nothing that they can do about it. Be sensitive to their emotions during this tough time.

What to do to console your kids

Now that you've taken the time to understand and listen to your children's complaints about moving, it is time to actively do something to make them feel better about it.

Point out what's positive about the move in kid terms

  • If you have moved because of financial reasons, then express to your child that you will have more money because of the move. You can explain that this will mean better toys for them in the near future. You could even get them a moving present if you want to add a small expense to your moving budget.
  • If the new home is nearer to any amusement park or child-friendly location that your kid may view as fun, explain that fact and take them on a trip there shortly after moving. This could be something as simple as taking them to a movie or restaurant, it doesn't need to be Six Flags.
  • Find some positives about their new school. School is work for kids, it is where a lot of their time is spent and they will worry about it a lot when moving. Look for anything that the new school (which you should have already researched) does better than the old school and remind your kids about it.

Get kids excited about their new home

  • Highlight the fun aspects of your new home. Is the yard bigger? Do you have a pool or swing-set now? Show your kids, or even surprise them with these details if they did not know about them beforehand.
  • Have your children help decorate their new rooms. If you let them have some agency during the move, they will respond favorably. When children start making their room their own, they can get excited about the move.

Let them keep in touch with their old friends

  • Remind them that just because they are further away from old friends, it doesn't mean they can't still be friends
  • If your kid does not yet have access to social media or cell phones, it may be time to consider giving them these means of communicating with their old friends after the move. Only do this if you are sure you are comfortable with them using hones or the internet.

Give them time to adjust

Kids tend to think in the short term and don't care about the future. In time, children will adapt to their new homes despite the initial fight they put up about moving. Without being condescending, remind your kids that the fear and unfamiliarity of being in a new home is only temporary.

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on July 1, 2014 - Moving Expert
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