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Helping Children Cope with A Move

We recently moved into a new home and boy was it a tough transition! I anticipated the challenge and prepared my little one as best I could but, as usual, there were some unexpected bumps along the way. Here are a few tips to keep yourself and your family grounded as you literally uproot your life into a new home.

  1. “Please put on your oxygen mask on first before assisting others”: So cliche, I know, but it’s so important to be aware of our own  emotional needs to help us be more present for the needs of our children. This is often the first thing we overlook which is why I made it #1 on the list.  I know you’re probably overwhelmed with finding a new home that’s in a nice neighborhood with a good school district, has a two car garage, updated kitchen, good natural light, etc, etc. But, have you taken a moment to check in with yourself? Where are you at emotionally? Anxious, frustrated, sad, excited? Explore your feelings; journal, talk to a good listener, meditate, take a long bath, take a yoga class. Find a way to access your emotional pulse and stay connected to it. Your emotions will likely fluctuate like crazy throughout this process so it’s essential to make this a practice. Staying connected to your “self” will help you be more present for your little ones. Personally, I find quiet moments of solitude to be helpful in accessing my emotional pulse.
  2. Prepare them for the move: When you have a plan in place, talk to your children about it; take them to the new home (or show them pictures), let them explore the rooms, point out their bedroom, take time to walk around the neighborhood taking in all the sights and sounds. Allow them to pack their most prized possessions. Knowing where their favorite teddy is can help ease anxiety during the move. This is important at any age; infants, toddlers and school age children. Remember, even infants can perceive and respond to changes in their environment. Don’t make the assumption that they’re too young to understand or “too young to remember”. Talk to your babies, let them know what’s happening, walk them around the new home introducing them to all the rooms. This is a beautiful way to establish a trusting and respectful relationship with your baby.
  3. Name it to tame it”:  Expect that your little one is going to take longer to adjust to this transition, even if you prepare them and talk to them and take them to visit the new home. Children don’t have the frame of reference that we do as adults, they don’t know that it will just take a few weeks to adjust to their new surroundings, this process takes longer as they are still developing parts of their brain responsible for emotional regulation.  As a result, they will experience a full range of emotions! Regressions are to be expected; sleep regressions, behavioral regressions, and behaviors that are uncommon. When our little one’s are overwhelmed by their emotions they struggle with  A favorite quote from Dr.Daniel Siegel, “name it to tame it”. Dr.Siegel encourages parents to help children tame their emotions by labeling them.  The simple act of naming one’s emotions helps us organize our feelings and as a result feel more in control.
  4. Allow For Grief: This applies to you and your child. The grief will come, whether it be on day one or day ten. And when it arrives it will likely hit you like a ton of bricks. Transitional objects can support the grief process. Create an altar with objects that symbolize your previous home and, over time, add objects that represent your current home to help integrate the experience.
  5. Integration Through The Senses: What could be more grounding than using our 5 senses to help us process/integrate information from our environment?! Here’s a few ideas….
    1. Sight: Children love small details, so instead of looking to the obvious, take time to find the details and nuances of your new surroundings….”look how the light shines through the window in this room” or “look at that beautiful tree outside your window”.
    2. Smell:  Sit outside and breathe in the air and explore the scents in your new yard or stop and smell the roses.
    3. Touch: What new textures can you find in your home? the carpet, the walls, the bathroom floor. Take time to really explore and experience these new textures with your little one.
    4. Taste: Hmmm, this can be a tricky one. Just make sure it’s edible!
    5. Hearing:  There’s likely some new sounds in the home, the way the floor creaks, the way the door closes, the neighbor’s yappy dog, a near by train. As you hear these sounds bring your child’s attention to them, doing so will help them become more familiar with their environment and less startled by the sounds.
  6. Create A New Ritual: As you make your move into a new home you will be leaving behind familiar rituals, breakfast routine may be different, you may no loner have the same dining room table, the bathroom sink where your child brushes her teeth is a different height, everything is new. Recognize that this is an overwhelming process for your little one. Take time to explain your new rituals; breakfast routine, dinner, bath time…..all the simple things we adjust to easily will take extra time for your child. Be patient and remember that you are creating new rituals for your family that will last for many years to follow! It will take some work now, but the payoff is a secure and predictable home with a well adjusted child!
By | 2020-03-01T13:10:55-08:00 March 1st, 2020|All Blog Posts, Newsletter|2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Margaret Trezza March 2, 2020 at 6:22 am - Reply

    I love reading your heart warming newsletters. I don’t have children, in fact I’m almost 70 years old. Your choice of subjects and inspiring reminders make me stop and take deep breaths and remind me to smell the roses. How lucky for you parents to have these precious messages as you grow with your children. Gina Janc has a knack for touching our hearts with sweet sensitivity, and describing her own experiences makes our reading and Our doing only the more reason to remind us to make those subtle changes in our lives. Thank you, Gina Janc.

    • Gina Janc April 6, 2020 at 1:03 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your kind words! It means a lot to me that you feel touched by what I share. xo

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