Mar 27, 2020

Ways to Help Your Kids Adjust to a New City or School

A girl taking notes in a classroom
Home relocation can be a challenge for any family and all family members. Kids are usually the ones who will find it the most difficult to adapt to the new circumstances. New city, home, friends, neighbors and, to top it all off, a new school is something that rarely any child looks forward to. However, it is your responsibility as a parent to find ways to help your kids adjust to a new city or school.

Prepare your child for the change?

There are many reasons why people decide to move to another neighborhood, city or even country. That is something that we, adults, understand. But a toddler, preschooler, schooler, and teenager will have a completely different perspective on it. They will not be too excited to leave everything they know and change their environment. Even those open house visits can be stressful for them. They need time to process the change, and this is exactly what you should give them - time.

Don't be one of those parents who keep secrets from their children, especially when something concerns them. Break the news and be ready to give all the answers. Having more information about what's coming will help your kids adjust faster and the whole process will be less stressful for them and for you too.
Time for change sign
Change can be a good thing, talk to your kids about that
Introduce them to the new environment before the move

One of the ways to help your kids adjust to a new city or school is to take them there prior to the move. If you are moving to another country or even a continent, this might not be an option, but you should do your best to make it possible, at least for a local move. They will get a better idea of what to expect. Show them your new neighborhood, home, the road to school, and eventually their new school. Arrange to meet the principle and your child's new teacher (or more of them). That might help alleviate the stress since your child will not have to cope with all the new things at the same time, on the first day at a new home.

Let them know that it is ok to be sad and vulnerable

Younger children might find it particularly challenging to make their peace with your decision to move. Try to understand them, they feel as if they were moving away from everything that is familiar. Their home is their entire world. You should be there for them so that they can see that some things are going to be the same even though your home will be somewhere else. Older kids will not be so thrilled to leave their friends and make new ones. They might even blame you for that. You can encourage them to stay in touch even after your family relocates. After all, that is what the social networks are for, right?

Point out the benefits of your relocation

Find some fun facts about the new city that you think your child might like. Visit the places that you think could be interesting for them. The more he/she knows, the easier it will be for them to adjust. Also, research the new school before your kid starts attending it. Do they have a good sports team, arts section or a drama group you think your child would like to join? Encourage them to think about such activities. While at it, point out the benefits of a fresh start. Changing schools is a major life shift, so it might as well be a change for the better.
A boy playing baseball
Signing your kid in an extracurricular activity is one of the ways to help them adjust to a new city or school
Let them make some decisions too

Being a part of the decision-making process will help your kids cope with stress better. It will make them feel that they have some control over the situation. For instance, you can let them choose:

  • how their new room will look like - they need a safe space where everything is familiar, so their toys and other belonging will help them adjust to a new home faster. Here's an extra tip for you: Ask your movers from to bring in your child's boxes first so that you can unpack their room first and they can have fun decorating it while you unpack the rest of the house.
  • which things they would like to bring and which to donate - they probably have many toys they have outgrown, this is the perfect time to get rid of them. Making such choices will make your child feel more like a grown-up and kids love that.
  • extracurricular activities they would like to attend after school - if there is a sport or any other activity they would like to try, encourage them to start now. This is one of the painless ways to help them adjust to a new city or school and it can boost your child's activity. In addition, they will probably meet some new friends there!
  • how to organize a farewell party - saying goodbye to their friends can be really stressful but your kids will suffer even more if they do not do that. Changing cities or schools doesn't have to mean that their friendships are over, help them understand that.

a nice and clean kids' room
Let your kid decide what his/her new bedroom should look like
Don't give up on family traditions and rituals

Your child needs to feel that even though everything around them is changing, some things will always stay the same. The rituals that you used to practice in your old home are more than welcome in your new one. We are talking about pancake or pizza nights, the TV shows that your child is used to watching with you and everything else that you enjoy doing together.

Be positive and realistic

Having a positive attitude will help both you and your children adjust. You are your child's role model, so go on and socialize with your new colleagues and neighbors. You can even organize a house-warming party to get to know your neighbors and their children. Or you can set a playdate with your child's new school mates if you think he/she will be comfortable with it. However, bear in mind that the adaptation period usually lasts for six weeks. Be supportive, but do not expect miracles. Give your child some space and time to process this huge change and let them know that they can always count on you.

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