By Kate Houston
Children are creatures of habit. There’s perhaps no bigger disruption to a routine than moving to a new home. That’s especially true for children with disabilities, who have additional challenges on top of the usual emotional distress that can come with moving. Children often have a difficult time adjusting to another home because it takes away everything that’s familiar to them — replacing it with different bedrooms, backyards, schools, etc. For children with disabilities, who depend on the familiar even more and may be more vulnerable, these new surroundings can be extra frightening. No matter what, it’s important for all parents to make their children’s feelings part of the planning process when preparing for a move to another home. Taking the time to talk to them about the move can help them be better prepared for the emotional stress, making the process much easier for them and for you.
For example, before the move, it can be very beneficial to involve your kids in the planning process as early as possible. Allowing your kids to choose the colors of their new bedrooms or a theme for their bathroom gives them a feeling of control. What’s more, your children get a chance to begin thinking about the move early in the process. Some parents may believe that withholding information about the move for a long time will lessen the shock. Yet keeping it a secret only exacerbates the anxiety your kids may experience on moving day and could damage your relationship with them. After moving day comes, it’s important to take the time to explore your new neighborhood with your kids. This can help them become more familiar with their surroundings as well as find their new favorite places.
No matter what, it’s essential to maintain any family routines or rituals you may have before, during and after the move — whenever possible. Whether it’s a family game night, a special dinner on a particular night of the week, or a bedtime routine, keeping some kind of structure in your kids’ lives during an upheaval such as moving can be powerful for them. The following guide details some of the most important ways you can help your children cope with the emotional impact of moving.
Author bio: Kate Houston is Director of Client Services at Ward North American. She attended Minot State University, and has more than 25 years of experience in the transportation and relocation industry.