6 Tips to Help Your Kids Adjust When Moving to a New Place

Be proactive in helping your kids cope with moving by using these key tips.

Published March 9, 2023
Woman and daughter sitting in moving boxes

Moving at any age isn't easy, but for kids, it can be particularly difficult. For parents, learning how to cope with moving yourself and helping your children navigate it can be challenging. Get tips on how to help guide your kids through moving and make things easier, from packing that first box to heading off to a new school for the first time.

How to Help Your Kids Cope With Moving

From packing box after box to listing your previous house on the market, the moving process is already a lot for adults. But for children, moving can up there on the list of most challenging that could happen to them. For many kids, their immediate environment and social circle is their lifeline. Having to rebuild that can feel really difficult.

Though moving can be tough for kids, it doesn't have to feel like a death sentence. And while the move itself may be out of your control, helping your child cope with their moving anxiety doesn't have to be.

Happy family moving into new home

Don't Give Them False Hope

Some kids will beg and plead to not move, and when you're overwhelmed with seeing them go through some heavy grief, you might be tempted to tell them things like "maybe you'll come back someday" and "who knows where you can end up in the future."

When you have a child that's desperate to move back home, it's not a good idea to give them any false hope of leaving your new home. You'll be doing them a disservice and assuring that they'll be heartbroken sometime in the future when they realize that's not an option. Also, when parents lie to kids, no matter how well-intentioned, it doesn't set them up for success.

Empathize With Their Feelings

Kids are full of emotions, and they can swing wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other. Go ahead and prepare yourself for an onslaught of feelings about the upcoming move coming your way. Whether it's rage, frustration, sadness, or fear, never shut your child's feelings down. Validate their feelings and empathize with them about the process.

Be Transparent With Kids About the Move

Age doesn't matter when it comes to honesty. Moving is hugely impactful no matter where you are developmentally and socially, but one way to show your kids that you understand this decision impacts them is to be fully transparent about why you're moving and where.

If you're wondering how to talk to your kids about moving, just be open. Historically, shielding children from 'stressful' topics has been the parenting trend, but when it comes to moving, this shouldn't be your go-to approach. Kids need to know if you're moving for a promotion, a new job, financial struggles, or safety.

Of course, the level of detail you use should be age appropriate. But, you can tell a nine-year-old that you're having to move because someone lost their job and found a new one somewhere else.

Woman having discussion with son

Involve Kids in the Moving Process

One of the biggest sources of moving anxiety comes from the uncertainty of it all. Thankfully, this is actually something you can mitigate pretty easily. All it takes is you involving your kids in the steps along the way.

Let them organize and pack up their room how they want to (even if it seems illogical to you). If you can, let them tour the new housing options with you and let them have a vote that actually counts.

Once you have a location picked out, tour the school together as early as possible. Knowledge is power, and if the only thing they have to discover is what the school lunch is for that day, you might have done a lot to reduce their anxiety.

Ways to Help Once You've Moved

The coast isn't clear just because you've settled into your new physical space. The first few months after moving is a tenuous time for kids, but there are a few things you can do to make the transition easier for them.

Keep Kids Connected With Their Old Community

As they transition from one community to another, they might feel like they've got one foot in and one foot out of the water. Over time, they'll rely on the relationships from where they lived before less, but in the first few months to a year after they've moved, making it easy for them to connect to their old friends can help.

If possible, offer to host weekends or weeks during the summer with their old friends, or drive them to spend time with their old friends throughout the year. Let distancing themselves from their old home in favor of their new one be a choice they get to make - rather than one you make for them.

Help Children Foster New Friendships

Of course, you're going to spend a lot of time getting yourself settled into your new environment, so it can be hard to make time to check in with your kids regularly. One way to show your support rather than just say it is by going out of your way to offer your services up for them to make new friends.

This can look like taking them to a new club or sports activity and letting them bring friends over throughout the week. The quicker you foster them making new friendships, the faster they'll feel connected to this new place.

Swim team friends

If Possible, Don't Move Them After Middle School

The older your kids are, the harder the move's going to be. This is especially true if your kids haven't moved before and have such deep social roots that they stretch back to kindergarten. While we know that some moves are out of your control, if possible, try not to move your children after they've hit high school age. Although experts agree moving can be a challenge for any child, it can be especially difficult for teens.

Similarly, if they're a year or two out from graduating, seek other options for how they can still finish out their schooling in the same place. This can look like one parent renting for a few months or the child living with family or friends in the area. Naturally, this isn't suitable for every case, but will smooth the process significantly if you can manage it, because applying for college and starting a new high school in the same year doesn't sound like fun for anyone.

Moving Isn't the End of the World

Although your kids might make you feel like moving's the end of the world, it's far from it. Of course, it can bring with it difficulties and uncomfortable challenges, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Unlike adults, kids don't have perspective in knowing that there is a life for them in a new place, and that it just takes time to build it back up again. But, so long as you give them the proper support and space to navigate their new environment, they'll be settled in in no time.

6 Tips to Help Your Kids Adjust When Moving to a New Place