If buying, selling, and moving homes was so easy we would all do it more often. The hard truth is that moving is stressful. As adults we tend to shoulder most of the burden when it comes to arranging a move. It starts with the simple tasks such as sorting through all of our possessions to determine what gets kept, what gets donated, and what gets thrown away. We then have to track down enough boxes and old newspapers to wrap and pack away all of our dishes and valuables. Do you hire a moving company or do you send out a massive email or Facebook request to all of your friends and family to recruit any able body for the big day? Do you request vacation days from work to allow a more steady paced move or do you try and squeeze it all in on a weekend?
There are so many decisions to be made when it comes to moving but one very important aspect can go mostly overlooked. What about the kids? I'm not just talking about their role in helping facilitate the activity of moving. If changing homes can be stressful on adults what sort of emotions are running through your child? Are they angry about the move? Are they saddened that they are being forced in to a new school district? Do they handle change well? It's easier as an adult to "grin and bear it" when we know a move is ultimately for the benefit of ourselves or our family. Kids don't have that same perspective.
A move can completely devastate a child's comfort level, trust, and emotional stability to the point of them acting out and exhibiting behaviors that you never thought would be coming from your loved one. A toddler all the way up to a teenager can all display signs of frustration and irritation about moving residents whether that be a new home down the street from where they once lived or completely across the Country. Here are some Verbal and Non-Verbal cues to look for in your child that may give you clues in to how they are being negatively affected by a move:
- Becomes easily agitated, frustrated or moody
- Feelings of being constantly overwhelmed
- Having difficulty relaxing
- Low self-esteem, loneliness, or depression
- Avoids others
- Difficulty sleeping
- Frequent headaches
- Low Energy
- Upset stomach or other digestive issues
- Chest pains or irregular heartbeat
- Aches, pains, or muscle tension
- Insomnia or other sleeping irregularities
- Frequent illness
- Grinding teeth, nail biting, or other nervous behaviors
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Inability to focus
- Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
As a parent myself, I know this list seems like it could be hanging on the wall of every household that has children. They could be character traits that kids of all ages display at one time or another. However, you know your children better than anyone else. If your child is starting to display any one of these behaviors that is not typical for them, it could be they are being adversely affected by a recent move. Children aren't the best communicators so it's up to us parents to identify these warning signs and be proactive in our approach to providing them much needed assistance to guide them through this difficult time in their life. Here are five ways we can help children handle the stress of moving:
1. Start talking about the move well in advance
Aside from an unexpected job transfer or any other sudden and abrupt life change, people generally plan out the purchase or sale of a home. It takes time to prepare a home to be listed for sale. It can also take time to search for a new home before the right one is found. When you or your family are at the beginning stages of planning a move, start discussing it with your kids. Most people don't do well with sudden change but if you can begin talking about all the positive aspect of your move early on it will give them time to process and get used to the idea of moving. That way when the big day comes it won't seem so overwhelming.
2. Include your children in the decision making process
I'm not talking about bringing your kids in to the fold when it comes to signing loan documents, choosing a floor-plan, or deciding what home warranty to purchase. Simply asking your child if they would like a big yard, what color do they want to paint their new room, or if living close to one of their favorite restaurants or parks would be fun are easy ways to make them feel like their feelings are being taken in to consideration. No one likes to feel helpless. We all like it when our boss comes in to our office and genuinely wants our feedback about a decision that needs to be made. Children are no different. They want to know their opinions are valued and will be noted.
3. Get back to a routine as soon as possible
We are all creatures of habit. Some people are early risers, and some are night owls. Others like to spend their time at home in peace and quiet while the rest of the family likes watching movies at decibels only heard in professional sports arenas. What time does your family normally eat dinner? When do the kids usually get put down for bed? Do you have a special restaurant you visit each weekend or some other weekly tradition you hold to? These and other routine habits can all be flipped upside down when you're dealing with moving to a new home especially if that new home is in a completely different State. Children can be adversely affected when their schedules and routines become unpredictable. The quicker you can get back to a familiar groove the faster your child will be able to adapt to their new surroundings.
4. Manage your own stress appropriately
Children are sponges. They absorb everything they see around them. If you aren't handling a move very well then chances are they won't either. You don't even need to be quarreling in front of your children for them to pick up on the signals that you are stressed. Body language, short tempers, and any number of other indicators will start to make your child doubt that the situation they are being forced to deal with is safe for them. Doubt will breed insecurity which will give way to fear if not addressed in short order. You must do everything you possibly can to curb your own negative emotions and show your children that your are in control.
5. Seek professional guidance and counseling
There's nothing wrong with admitting you are not properly equipped for handling a situation. Calling in the professionals may be the best option for you and your child if they are having a difficult time adjusting to a new home, new school, or new environment. Experienced counselors have the knowledge and tools needed to help shed light on a strenuous situation before it gets too far out of hand.
The world is a stressful place. As parents we will go to any length to reduce that stress for our children as much as we can. Moving can take a physical and emotional toll on adults and kids, however, children don't often have the necessary skills to handle their lives being shifted in such a quick and dramatic fashion. Implementing one or even all five of these tips can greatly reduce the negative effects on kids caused by a move.
As adults in this equation you need to know your real estate professional will help your home purchase or sale be as stress free as possible. Let us here at Zion Realty guide you through the entire process from start to finish. We'll take care of the hard stuff so that you can better focus on the needs of your family. If you're in Gilbert, Arizona or the East Valley, contact us today at!