Moving house: how to tell the children

by Housesimple on 7th July 2016

Sometimes we get so wrapped in the practical question of 'how to sell my house' we forget how much the experience can effect children. Whether they're still toddlers or already into their teens, you can face potential problems – particularly if your child tends towards introversion, anxiety or inflexibility. But if you start your planning early you can minimise the upset.

Young children

Small children have short attention spans, so turn discussions into an activity. Psychologist Dr. Kalman Heller recommends playing the scenario out with a new doll house or toys to help them understand what will happen. Reading books about moving house will also help.

Object permanence can be a problem; little ones tend to think that once something's out of sight, it's gone. You can help keep memories alive by collecting mementoes in a box and allowing them to take pictures of your old home and making a book. If they do miss the old property, don't be afraid to show them it's still there.

School age children

Liking their new school and making friends are the biggest challenges for young school-age children. Showing them the new house and area can help, but looking for sports or activities that are popular in the area and giving them a chance to practice in advance can be an excellent way to help them settle and make new friends.

Let them feel a part the moving process by involving them in decisions about how you decorate your new home and letting them watch the movers. If they start missing their friends, Dr. Nancy Darling recommends online computer games and video chats to stay connected and ease the feeling of loss.

Teenagers

Teenagers are likely to understand why you're moving, but might also feel more connected to their old home. Tell them about the move as soon as it's certain and involve them in as many decisions as possible. Avoid platitudes like “time is a great healer” or “everything will be fine”; instead, spend time trying to find practical solutions to their worries, while being respectful of their opinions and wishes.

To initiate positive change, be excited about the move and organise fun activities – like a housewarming party – that give your children the opportunity to make new friends.