Moving with Children

Moving with children of all ages can cause some irregular emotional behaviors that need a parent’s attention. Thank goodness there are more tools today then past years and it is a good idea for parents to have their children utilize them as in their smart phones, laptops etc.,for keeping in touch and there other social media to stay connected and we will touch on all this in a minute.

Moving often is tough on kids and disrupt important friendships.  These effects are most problematic for kids who are introverted and those whose personalities tend toward anxiety and inflexibility.  One major reason that kids are negatively affected by moves is that moves are often precipitated by problems - a divorce, job loss - that are tough on the family.  Or the family moves because one parent's job requires it, but this mean the other parent (usually mom) loses theirs.  When parents are stressed and upset (and trust me, moving is always stressful) their parenting suffers, and the kids always, always notice.  Moves are also hardest on kids in the midst of other transitions - like puberty and school changes.  Middle school seems to be the toughest time to make a transition.

You can help.  When parents support each other and work hard to make the move as easy for the themselves and their kids as possible, negative effects are minimized.  When moving is fairly normative - as for military families - and the receiving school has many kids who move or have peer networks that are relatively open, so it is easier to enter into new social circles, negative effects are minimized.  Like most processes that have negative effects on social relationships, meaning (e.g., we're making this move to keep the family together), mutual support (I know this is hard, but we're working to make it as easy as possible), and flexibility help both parents and kids in the adjustment. 

Like most major transitions (childbirth, divorce) moving is a long process, not one that just drops from the sky.  Actually, his friend's moving transition lasted several years, as his family was on the verge of moving at the end of each year and was only reprieved at the last minute.

Depression in childhood looks somewhat different from depression in adulthood.  In addition to moping, crying, and feelings of sadness, children can also become inattentive, hyperactive, and act out - yelling, hitting, being defiant or stubborn. In friendships when both partners are stressed, relationship quality tends to suffer.  You see this in romantic partners heading off to different colleges or about to be deployed overseas.  You see it in kids too.  Relationship problems don't make the parting easier.

Plans for maintaining the relationship were positive for the children.  Technology has changed things a lot and can be used to sustain distant relationships.  When I was a kid and my best friend moved, we wrote weekly letters, but never made a phone call.  It was 7 cents a minute and that was a lot of money then. Now the kids use the unlimited phone minutes on the cell phone to call each other.  They use the internet for free video chatting. That age is here and free on the computer. Just seeing each other's faces - and the messiness of our familiar family room and his messy new bedroom - is a comfort. 

And video games - which are such a social center for many kid's lives - can be played on-line. Together.  Simple games like checkers and chess or battleship are free.  For younger kids, who have trouble maintaining sustained emotional conversations, this is a real blessing because you can talk around and through a game and still communicate well. You can show a Lego model or a new soccer ball without having to describe it.  You can play a blast on the trumpet.  You can walk around the house with a laptop and show where you're living.  Shared activities bond people together without the pressure of just talking.  This can be particularly important for boys and for kids who are less verbal and more play oriented.

So maybe sometimes we want to be there only means of fixing things, however, allow the technology to give it it’s helping hand and allow our children to heal from the initial shock of the move in their comfort zone.