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Posted by Katie oGrady

Moving Home – Tips on Minimising Stress in Young Children by Dr Natalie Flatter, Clinical Psychologist

Young children generally thrive on routine and familiarity so moving home can be stressful. Some children love the excitement, adventure and a fresh start. Usually, unless a family are making frequent moves over long distances, children are resilient and cope well.

One of the main problems with moving is that it is extremely stressful for parents, which can impact on young children. They can also feel like they are losing precious attention. If parents can find ways to manage and cope with their own stress then this will have a positive impact on the children.

Tips for helping young children cope with moving home:

  1. Talk – Discuss the move and ask them for their opinions, questions or concerns.  For example, children may worry about losses during a move, such as friendships. Talk to them about how friendships may be maintained.
  2. Prepare them – Take them on a visit to their new home or show them photographs. Give them information about the area, such as the local park or take them there beforehand. Plan in advance who the children will be with on the day of the move. Read books about moving home or role play the scenario.
  3. Control – During the move children can feel powerless so giving them control over decisions will be helpful. For example, they could choose the colour of their bedroom, where pictures are put up or where their toys are kept.
  4. Timing – Try not to make too many changes at once, if there has been another recent significant life change, such as a bereavement or a new school, consider making the move at a later date.
  5. Communication – Make sure the children’s nursery or school are aware of the move.
  6. Settling in –  Organise the children’s rooms first, before the rest of the house. Also, try to get into a routine as quickly as possible around meal, bath and bed times to help children feel secure and settled as everyone’s life returns to normal.

(Dr Natalie Flatter is a Clinical Psychologist who has worked with children, adolescents and adults for over a decade in both the public and private sector. She uses a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy approach to provide assessment and treatment for a wide range of emotional difficulties to people of all ages. Dr Flatter currently practices in a clinic in Park Street, near St Albans. She may be contacted on  07756 940 923)