Relocating to a new place can be both exciting and stressful. There are many things that need to be done. And having a toddler is even more challenging. Moving is a big life-changing decision and it can take its toll on you. It is very stressful for you, so imagine how your child feels learning that they will be in a new environment, in a new place full of strangers. It can be a little traumatic for them, especially since they were not involved in the decision-making process and had no idea that a huge change was coming. Moving with toddlers has its own challenges. It can be a struggle to help them understand what is happening and make them accept the changes in their life. Some kids feel alone and that they will never be home again. They will have fears and anxieties. As a parent, it is important to make them understand that they are not leaving their toys behind. Make them feel that they are not alone and that the whole family will be together in the new home.
Helping a toddler deal with this kind of change in a positive way is all about validating their feelings and fears. Layout expectations in ways they can comprehend. Make it clear to them that this is a positive transition and that moving with the whole family is exciting and fun.
Here are some important ways you can make moving with toddlers easier:
Look at the move from your child’s point of view
It is clear that toddlers feel helpless when the family moves to a new home. They might have mixed emotions about this big change. Adjust your perspective to see how your child feels about the move. How does your child feel knowing they are leaving the place they have called home their entire lives? Do they feel scared? Would they feel sad or anxious? Toddlers thrive on routine and structure. The move will make them feel the loss of a home. They can also feel disoriented from the changes happening right in front of their eyes.
Understand that negative or frustrating behaviors are normal. Since most toddlers are still struggling with their communication skills, there is a tendency that they will act out physically to manage this change. During these outbursts, make your child feel heard and accepted. Remember, only by identifying the root cause of the bad behavior will you be able to address the negative behavior. Be patient with your child as they handle their emotions. They just need a little more understanding and extra attention during this life-changing process.
Prepare them for the move
Properly preparing your child, emotionally and physically, for the move can alleviate the stress of moving. The time leading up to the move is crucial and has a big impact on how your toddler will adapt to the change. To help them get ready for the transition, calmly tell them of the move at least a month in advance. This will give them time to process the information and contemplate the changes ahead.
When you explain to them about the move, do not tell them about what will change. Instead, focus on the fact that everything will remain the same, especially when it comes to their structure and routine. Explain how important things will remain the same and that their toys, blankets or furniture will not be left behind.
It is important to get down on their level when you talk to them. Make eye contact as you explain what to expect without overwhelming them. If they have concerns, listen to them. Give them time to fully understand what you are telling them. Give them something to do so that they won’t feel so helpless. Ask them if they want to pack their own stuff. Do they want to pick a special outfit for moving day? Make your child feel empowered to help calm their nerves.
Be patient with your toddler
Even with all the exciting conversations and neighborhood playdates, anxiety will still be a normal feeling. Allow them to express what they feel. If they have questions about the move, calmly respond to them with clear and simple answers. Eventually, they will learn to adapt to the new home and new environment. It may take some time, so be patient with them.
With the right plan, moving with toddlers can be manageable. Moving is good for kids because it teaches them how to deal with change – which they will encounter more often growing up. For more ways on how to make moving easier with toddlers, contact Imagine Nation Learning Center.