Helping Your Toddlers Cope With a Local Move
Your move may be exciting for you, opening up a whole new world or even career opportunities for you, but to small children, it can represent a total upheaval of what they are familiar with. This new insecure world can make them very uneasy. Even a local move can put toddlers into a tizzy as they cope with the change of scenery and the uncertainty of a new home.
Don’t be surprised if your little ones start to act out, perhaps misbehaving more than usual or crying at the drop of a hat. These are fairly typical reactions of toddlers to a move. Little kids rely on structure, routine and a familiar environment in order to feel safe in a chaotic world.
It’s important to understand how small children act out so that you can respond in the appropriate manner, says The New York Times. Often times, these have physical manifestations. They may say their tummy hurts or that they have a headache. They may also show non-verbal signs such as thumb sucking, bed wetting or being clingier than normal.
To help with these things, you can establish some routines before, during and after the move so your toddler can get a better handle on the situation.
Involve Them in the Discussions
Obviously, the conversation you have with a toddler about an impending move will vary drastically from what you would have with a pre-teen. But it’s important to keep them in the loop as much as possible, letting them know at their level what’s going to happen. Involve them in family discussions prior to the move.
They should know why you’re moving (“Daddy got a new job” or “The new baby means our family is growing and we need more space”). Listen to their feelings and validate them. Tell them you know it’s hard and that they will miss their old house, but that you will miss it too and they will get through it together.
If you can, tour the new house with your toddler, pointing out their new room, playroom and backyard with swing set. Highlight all the positives and help them look forward to a newer, bigger home. But don’t just show them the new house. Take them to the area playground and to their new school. Stop to get fresh fruit from the roadside stand, or check out books from the local library. Ask about kids’ classes and activities they can engage in there. Grab a slice of pizza and a cupcake from the local bakery.
But if your toddler is too young to understand what the move really means, you could act it out with stuffed animals. Let them know that they and all other family members will be moving together and that you will all support one another. Very young children may worry that they’ll be left behind. Make sure they know everyone is included and no one will be forgotten about.
Make a comfort bag for them so they can carry it with them on Moving Day. In this bag, place a beloved stuffed animal, some stickers, a coloring book and crayons, their favorite snacks and a story book. This way, they’ll always have comfort items with them and you won’t have to rummage through boxes to find what they need.
Prepare For Moving Day
Moving day is a stressful day for parents, to be sure, but you may not realize how much stress it places on little ones too. Be prepared for meltdowns and give them space when they happen. Switch off with your spouse in taking care of the child throughout the day. Or better yet, hire a trusted babysitter or family member to keep them occupied so they’re not underfoot. This will also keep them distracted from the big changes taking place.
Consider engaging in a ritualized farewell that day, too. Say good bye to neighbors, take photos of their old room, or create a memory box with sand or leaves from their old house so they can look at it and touch it later. This puts your child in control of the situation so they can better handle the emotions that are sure to come.
Planning For the Future
Don’t assume that once you move, the transition is over. There will still be times where your toddler will be sad and cry over a lost friend, or pine for their old treehouse. Your toddler may ask to go back and visit. You can try and create new memories and attachments by adopting a new pet in the new home, for instance.
Always be focusing on the positives as you settle into your new routine, but let them know it’s OK to feel sad and confused sometimes. Make the time to reconnect with their old friends, neighbors, and family members. Go back for playdates if you can, or engage in FaceTime sessions. Soon enough, they will adjust to their new life and those requests will be further and fewer between.
Schedule playdates with new neighbors and preschool friends as soon as possible. Make these playdates as physical as possible, such as going for a bike ride, a walk in the park, roller skating, or just playing tag in the yard. You can even create a scavenger hunt to get all the kids involved. This will also help your child discover their new neighborhood in tactile ways.
Contact Luke’s Moving
If you have toddlers and are planning a local move, check out Luke’s for a focused specialty on in-town moves. When you let us take care of all the details, you can have more time to help your little ones cope with the move. Contact us today for a free quote in Hurst TX and beyond at 817-752-9366.