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The Emotional Impact of Moving on Children

Every family faces unique challenges, but one common challenge that many confront is the process of moving, especially within Canada’s expansive landscapes. The emotional impact of moving on children especially often goes under the radar, brushed aside by the logistical aspects of the move. But this underestimation could be a grave oversight.

A Transition Not Just of Place, But of Heart

Moving is like untying a firmly knotted shoelace. The change is both daunting and exciting. But for children, it’s often amplified. Regardless of their age, kids perceive these changes deeply.

A family goofing around post-moving

The initial thrill of relocating can be channeled into a grand family adventure filled with anticipation and discovery.

As parents, it’s our responsibility to:

  • Understand their feelings and concerns.
  • Keep the lines of communication open.
  • Create a sense of familiarity amidst the unfamiliar.
  • Stay positive and patient.

The emotional terrain children navigate during a move is vast. Moving impacts kids not just in the physical displacement but also in reshaping their inner world. That said, let’s dive into the seven emotional facets of this experience.

1. Integrating Into the Community

Moving to a new place isn’t just about settling in a new home or starting a new school; it’s about becoming part of an entirely different community. One of the foundational reasons to find who lives in your vicinity is to build a sense of security and belonging for your children.

Familiarizing them with a nearby family, introducing them to kids of their age living nearby, or just knowing where the nearest convenience store is can exponentially enhance their comfort levels.

2. A Rollercoaster of Emotions

For children, navigating a move is often like riding an unpredictable emotional rollercoaster. On the one hand, the prospect of a fresh start can light up their imagination, turning the relocation into a potential adventure. Yet, the emotional impact of moving on children can be profound, with the weight of leaving behind the known often tempering their excitement.

Parents can help by acknowledging these mixed emotions and reassuring them. While anticipating new experiences might be exhilarating, it’s crucial to remember that children also grapple with the anxiety of the unknown. Balancing this duality is how one can make the entire process easier for both children and themselves. However, this is something parents can only effectively do once they have delegated relocation tasks to the professionals providing moving services. Why? Because by doing so, they are left with ample time to prioritize their children’s needs.

3. Attachment and Loss

Relocating doesn’t simply mean shifting to a new address. For many children, it’s akin to leaving a treasured chapter of their life behind. Every corner of their old home holds profound memories, from the tree they claimed as their secret hideout to the corner store where they bought their favourite treats. These attachments go beyond brick and mortar; they represent comfort zones, friendships, and myriad first-time experiences.

The potential loss of these familiar touch points can invoke deep sorrow and nostalgia. To counter this, parents must help their children cherish the memories from the past while cultivating new ones in their upcoming environment. Encourage them to keep in touch with old friends and simultaneously seek new adventures and relationships in their fresh surroundings.

4. The Power of Preparedness

Preparation is an essential tool that shields children from the emotional tumult of relocation. Drawing insights from experts in the moving domain, a prepared child often adjusts more smoothly to new environments. 

Family of three unpacking after a move
Actively involving kids in the move can significantly lessen the emotional impact of moving on children.

Over the years, many families have recognized the value of involving children in the moving process. One notable example frequently cited involves a family who, upon seeking advice, decided to engage their kids in various aspects of the move, from selecting moving dates to deciding which toys to pack first. This proactive approach empowers children and instills a sense of control and belonging, ensuring they feel heard and valued throughout the journey.

5. Navigating the New and Unknown

Since every neighbourhood has its own culture, rhythm, and routines, it becomes necessary for children, but also adults alike, to tune into these local nuances. Easier said than done, right? Not exactly. Adjusting to the new environment can be as simple as visiting the local festival they’ve never witnessed before or the community park with a different vibe.

Before moving in, consider arranging explorative visits to your new locale. Wander around with your children, helping them discover aerial playgrounds, libraries, or events. Making them familiar with the unique characteristics of their new home will mitigate apprehension and cultivate enthusiasm for the upcoming chapter of their lives.

6. Mental Health and Moving

With all its logistical and emotional challenges, a move can cast a shadow on children’s mental health. They might not voice it, but signs of stress, anxiety, or even melancholy can surface. Amidst the frenzy of the process, it becomes imperative for parents to prioritize efforts to keep their kids’ mental well-being intact. Maintaining semblances of routines, ensuring they have outlets for their feelings, and even considering professional counselling sessions can provide invaluable emotional scaffolding mid-transition.

7. Being Economical and Considerate

While it’s the adults who juggle finances during a move, children, with their intuitive nature, often pick up on the underlying money struggles. They might overhear conversations or sense the tension, leading them to internalize feelings of guilt or anxiety.

Mother hugging and comforting her young son as an example of handling the emotional impact of moving on children
Always remain a steady pillar of comfort, listening intently and supporting your kids through each milestone.

As much as you scout for ways to minimize financial draining, it’s equally vital to communicate with your children, assuring them that their wellness and happiness are paramount and not a financial burden.

The Journey Beyond the Move

While the act of moving boxes and furniture concludes once we settle in, the emotional impact of moving on children stretches far beyond. It’s a journey filled with mixed emotions, from anticipation to anxiety. As caregivers, it’s our mission to ensure that our children’s emotional compasses are well-calibrated during this transformative phase. With understanding, patience, and proactive engagement, we can convert the intimidating experience of relocation into a positive chapter of growth and resilience for our little ones.

Lyne Proulx
Lyne Proulxhttps://ottawamommyclub.ca/
Lyne Proulx is a Certified WEBB Bodywork Pet Practitioner, Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI), Certified Professional Wedding Consultant, and an Event Planner. She loves all things Disney and is an avid teaholic and chocoholic. She coordinated the Annual Infant Information Day/Early Years Expo for the City of Ottawa for 8 years. She was the Queen B of the BConnected Conference, Canada's Digital Influencer and social media Conference in Ottawa and Toronto. She was also the co-chair of the Navan for Kraft Hockeyville 2009-2011 committee that organized five community events within 6 months, and helped Navan reach the top 10 finalists in Canada. In April 2011, she received the City of Ottawa Mayor's City Builder Award.

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