Moving can be exciting, but it can also be a shock to the system. For babies and small children, a first move can be particularly jarring because they have never know any other home. Here are some pitfalls to watch out for when moving with children.
Feeling Left Out
As a child, it is very easy to feel left out when parents are packing and planning a move. Children who feel left out often cry out or misbehave to try to shift attention. Assigning a small age appropriate task – like filling a box with toys, or checking items off a checklist, or packing clothes from a drawer, or labeling boxes – can be ways to ensure your child feels important, useful, and included.
Change to Routine
A change to a child’s routine, no matter how small, can greatly affect a child’s ability to cope throughout their day. So a major change like a move can be catastrophic to your child’s emotions. The new home, and maybe even a whole new city, can look, feel, smell, and sound very different to your child. They will no longer be able to tell what room they are in “with their eyes closed,” and that can be disorienting. To combat this, identify any familiar parts of their old routine or old surroundings that you CAN keep constant throughout the move. This will retain and reestablish feelings of safety and security for your child in the new location. Your child may also need extra comfort, snuggles, book time, or game time with you in the process, because when a child does not feel safe or secure, their heightened alert system internally will make them less able to handle frustrations externally. Meaning they may cry at the drop of a hat….or a sippy cup.
Chaos and Disorganization
It has been shown that exposure to a chaotic and disorganized environment can greatly affect a child’s executive functioning skills. When executive functioning skills are altered in the brain, it disrupts your child’s ability to control their thoughts, emotions and behavior. In addition, it can feel scary when parents who are normally smiling and available are instead running around, talking fast, acting distracted, and looking frustrated. The remedy? 1. Stay as organized as you can 2. Try to buy extra time to complete the move so you aren’t as rushed 3. Ask family or friends to play with your children while you complete difficult tasks 4. Set up your child’s spaces in the new home prior to their arrival, so they enter a calmer home 5. Hold their hand during any times that are chaotic or scary so they can feel connected to you through it.
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