I’ve just moved house. After spending many years “down south” I’ve moved back to my home county of Derbyshire. I’m now safely located in the lovely village of Crich, home of the Tramway Village, rolling hills and for those of you old enough to remember the location for the 1990’s series “Peak Practice”.
As you may have experienced, moving home can be quite a challenge, logistically, mentally and emotionally. I spent a fair bit of time in the week leading up to the move hanging out with Anxious, Frustrated and Overwhelmed. If you’re wondering why I’m referring to my feelings as people, check out the feeling basket
Bizarrely moving home is not on the list of the top 10 most stressful life events, according to the study carried out by psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe back in 1969 (yes, that really was the last time someone did a study like this). We know, however, even though it may not have reached the heady heights of the top 10 stresses, it is still pretty stressful for us and our children. Even though we have the primary job or coordinating, financing and practically making the move happen, our children are still caught up in the emotional aspects of the process. Dirk Flower, a leading UK psychiatrist, states, “Adults focus on the practical aspects of moving while children tend to focus on the loss of friends and familiar environment in particular. They often feel powerless, especially if they’ve had no say in the move.”
It is this lack of power and emotional upheaval in moving house which can have a significant impact on a child’s confidence and their ability to deal with other challenges occurring at that time. So, how can you avoid stress and anxiety in your children when you move home?
Here are my top 5 tips to help your children manage their emotions and maintain their confidence throughout the move:
The earlier you include them in the process, the longer they will have to process the change, make the decisions they need to make and carry out the activities they need to do beforehand. Children need time to process, when given enough time, they do this well. In fact when supported through the process children are usually much better than adults at processing change as they have less influence from negative beliefs.
Help them find out as much as possible about the area you’re moving to. Look into all the local activities and agree a list of things you will do when you move. Make sure this list includes replacements for activities they currently do.
Regularly talk to your kids about the move, the more you chat openly about it and the tasks you are working on to help with the move, the more comfortable they will feel. Remember too that communication includes listening. Listen to their thoughts, worries and plans, even if you’ve heard them already. Expressing our feelings and thoughts verbally helps us to make sense of them and having someone to empathise with our views helps us to understand, process and move forwards.
Give them choice
As much as possible, give your children choices within the process. Although it may not be practical for them to have a say in the house you’re purchasing, they may be able to select their room (when the options have been narrowed down) or where their bed, toys and bookshelves go. They may also be able to help make decisions about the garden, for example where their vegetable pots will sit, or the location of their play area. Each of these choices will help your child to feel more empowered and confident about the move.
Give your children the opportunity to say goodbye properly, to whatever and whoever they need to. You may not have made friends with the neighbours, the tree down the bottom of the garden or a special flower pot that’s home to a very dilapidated weed, however the chances are, they have. Be mindful of the process they will need to embark on before they feel ready to move on. Some children may need to go through the grieving process, give them the space, time and opportunity to do this.
Moving house can be a stressful activity for the whole family. Make time to manage your own emotions to give yourself the space to help your children throughout the move too. Engaging in these five tips will help your child to take the move in their stride and enter into the next chapter of their life with ease and confidence.
For advice about one to one support, in and around Derbyshire and more tips to build and maintain confidence in your children contact me at DebbieK@NLP4Kids.org or call 07747 090871.
By Debbie Kinghorn