MOVING CAN BE AN ADVENTURE
Families often look for new homes and new jobs in spring or summer because moving is easier for children at the end of the school year. You may be planning a move to another neighborhood or even another state. Kids may think of moving as a horrible upheaval or an exciting adventure, and parents can make the difference in helping children experience a move positively. Moves often bring a familycloser and may increase children’s creativity becauseit opens up different worlds to them.
Research on the childhoods of over a thousand successful women presented in our book, See Jane Win,* showed that about as many of the women found childhood moves to be happy experiences as found them to be unpleasant. Notice what made differences for these successful women (see figure). You can help your children by the way you prepare them for the move and how you help them adjust after the move.
"Be a role model for adjustment"
• They learned social adjustment skills to fit in and make friends.
• They were no longer smartest in class, and they lost intellectual confidence.
*See Jane Win: The Rimm Report on How 1000 Girls Became Successful Women by Dr. Sylvia Rimm (1999 Crown Publishing)
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO TO HELP MAKE MOVING A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE
Although moving has many uncertainties, you are a role model for handling the ambiguity. You can be sensitive to your children’s apprehension while also doing a little acting. Moving will carry with it some anxiety for both you and your children, and you needn't deny your own anxiety because explaining your feelings to your children will help them to explain and understand their own. On the other hand, if you only talk about your anxiety, there will be no energy to be enthusiastic about your new adventure, and fears will increase for you and your children. Show confidence in your children’s flexibility.
Explain new opportunities. Find the advantages of the new place you’re moving to. Obtain maps and books from the library. Look up information on the Internet. If you have an opportunity for a previsit, explore the potential places of interest in the area. Encourage the spirit of discovery and adventure.
Determine school differences. Identify
whether curriculum will be more or less advanced than your children’s present school. If differences are small, children can make the adjustments easily. If they are extensive, you may wish to arrange some preparatory tutoring to help your children catch up. You may even want to continue the tutoring temporarily after the move. The new school will undoubtedly be happy to help you to find appropriate tutors, and tutoring can be discontinued when your children have closed their skills gaps.
If the new school is less challenging, you may want to investigate enrichment opportunities in the area or even consider alternative schools. If curriculum results in your children being ahead of where they were in their old school, their teachers may be willing to make adjustments, or your children may need to be patient and do some repetitive work for a short time. Try not to get into the position of negating or opposing the new school, or your children will surely turn off to their new environment.
Help your children meet new friends. Children of colleagues with whom you plan to work or those in your new neighborhood will help your children cope with the unknown. If your children are fortunate enough to meet a child or two early, leaving old friends won't feel quite as hard, and they’re likely to feel less fearful. When your children go to their new school, reassure them that it usually takes a little time to make new friends, but they’ll surely find some eventually. Many schools arrange partnerships within classes because knowing at least one person from the start will help kids meet other kids, so they can gradually become more comfortable.
Help your children discover ways to stay in communication with old friends. Planning potential future visits, letter writing, e-mail, and phone calls can help maintain friendships. Exchange of photographs and tape recordings can keep special friends close. The potential for introducing old friends to new friends helps kids connect. Goodbye parties can help your kids separate from friends and feel cared about. Bulletin boards for their rooms with reminders of past activities and friendships can help children feel at home in their new home.
Consider alternatives for high school moves. Research shows that moves become more difficult as children reach adolescence, and moving during high school is most difficult of all. If you can postpone or avoid moves during those years, it will be easier on your teenagers. Sometimes high school students can arrange to stay with a friend or relative to complete their final year.
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Overall, it's important for parents to be upbeat about moving because with care and concern about the details and a positive attitude, it's very likely you can make your family move a positive experience.
©2010 by Sylvia B. Rimm. All rights reserved. This publication, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author.