Moving On: How to Deal with Relocation
For many people, uprooting your life and family in a move or job relocation can be an overwhelming event. Just the word “moving” alone can trigger stress. You’ve got to shift your entire life and say goodbye to the familiar. Add to that, your immediate family has to say goodbye to the many comfortable aspects of their own lives—school, friends and their home.
Moving means closing the book on some part of life. Dealing with the realities of the situation isn’t always the easiest thing to process, even for adults. If your family is facing relocation, it can be helpful to keep some of the following tips in mind.
More Communication is Better Than Less
As parents, we tend to shy away from discussing the difficult or uncomfortable. We might think avoiding the topic is the best way to keep our children from thinking about the elephant in the room. However, refraining from a difficult conversation only draws more attention to it. Children are very perceptive. They’re aware when something isn’t being discussed, and that lack of discussion actually communicates that the parents believe the topic is too big to handle. Rather than discussing openly, the uncomfortable topic can snowball and become bigger than it really is.
To avoid this, talk about all aspects of moving early and often. Hold family meetings and discuss what’s coming up in the future. By being upfront about the realities of the situation, you can avoid making the ordeal any more stressful.
Don’t Minimize Loss
We avoid discussing the uncomfortable; likewise, we also avoid embracing uncomfortable feelings. Moving is emotionally strenuous. Your children are likely going to be upset, but it’s important to validate these feelings. Don’t try to minimize the loss and negate their emotions by saying something like, “Don’t be sad because our new house will be better.” Being sad is an appropriate feeling for your child. They’re losing a part of their childhood. If you avoid the negative emotions they’re contending with, it will only make things worse. By properly dealing with their sadness, they’ll emerge from the situation as stronger people. Discomfort and sadness are normal parts of growing up.
Use Art Therapy
Art therapy is a wonderful tool to use to help your children grapple with moving. By drawing what’s important to them, children are able to directly deal with the aspects of their lives that are important to them. Allow your children to draw their current home and the things they will miss—like friends and school. Also let them take photos of what they’ll miss. By creating a collage or photo book, children are able to achieve a sense of closure. They’re able to create a tangible product that reflects their memories.
Discomfort Makes Us Stronger
All of these tips will help your child deal with their feelings, and, as a parents, it’s important that you don’t try to shield your child from the negative emotions they’ll experience. It may be tough to see your child under duress, but dealing with the pain of moving will only make them stronger. Wrestling with a hurdle like this will help them develop the tools they need to process problems later in life.
However, if the feeling persists to a point of serious worry, it may be a good idea to seek out a counselor for your child. Stenzel Clinical Services employs a team of licensed therapists, well-versed in helping your family adjust to the realities of moving.