A Moving Experience

July 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Child Development

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Relocation creates major stress for some. Mental health experts say uprooting your family and moving to another city is one of the most stressful experiences you’ll endure—right under death and divorce, but ahead of taking out a mortgage or having trouble with your boss.

“Relocation creates major stress,” said child psychologist Vicki Panaccione. “It changes many other things in your life, so that it really compounds the degree of stress in your life.”

Leaving family and friends, familiar surroundings, and the house where you raised your children evokes emotions of grief, said Panaccione. The sense of loss is great.

“The first thing I would recommend would be to bring some closure to the place you’re leaving,” she said. “For children especially, it is important to say goodbye (to their home, friends, school, teachers), collect memorabilia and take pictures so that they can take some memories with them that will help with the transition.”

Relocation is particularly difficult for children because they’re losing their stability, their sense of security.

“It’s very scary, even for the older ones, because of fear of the unknown,” said Panaccione. “Being the new kid on the block can be very tough.”

To help, she recommends reassuring children that the family will be intact and that life as they’ve known it will go on.

Panaccione’s transition tips include:

1) Make arrangements to stay in contact with friends.
2) If you have a chance to explore the new setting before the move, do so. When you move, things will seem more familiar.
3) Keep familiar things around. People try to be practical and get rid of a lot of possessions before the move. Keep things that are familiar, especially for children. For example, toys you have here are the toys you’ll have in the new house.
4) Communicate. Talk to the children about their feelings and what they think it’s going to be like somewhere else.
5) Get the children involved. Let them help box their stuff rather than come home one day and find everything in boxes.
6) Let the children be involved in (if possible) choosing the new neighborhood and have some say in what kind of house (or room) they want.

As published in Florida Today.
Florida Today

© MMVI Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D.

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