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How to involve your children to make moving home less stressful

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Buying a new home is exciting, but moving and adapting to a new environment can be stressful, particularly for children.

Buying a new home is exciting, but moving and adapting to a new environment can be stressful, particularly for children.

“Once you factor in the confusion and anxiety children feel when leaving a familiar space and going to a completely new setting, a move can be a traumatic experience,” says father-of-two Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive Re/Max Southern Africa.

To relieve some anxiety and help children cope with the move, he says there are things parents can do to make the transition “less taxing”. One of the most important is communication.

Goslett says it usually takes children slightly longer to adapt to change, so it is important to talk to them about the move and prepare them well in advance.

Knowing about the move long before it happens will help them prepare mentally and emotionally.

“It is vital age-appropriate language is used to explain why the family is moving,” says Goslett.

“Based on the child’s age and level of understanding, each parent will know how best to tell their child the reason for the move. While an older child may understand the concept of better career opportunities, a younger child might find the idea of moving to a larger home with more room to play a more compelling explanation.”

Once a child understands the reasoning behind the move, they will find it easier to absorb the reality of the move.

It is also helpful to involve children in the decision relating to the move as this makes them feel part of the decision-making process.

“For example, if the family is looking for a new home together, ask the children for their opinions and what they liked and didn’t like about each house. Ask where they would like to place their bed or toys in their new room, or have them choose a colour to paint the walls.”

Encouraging older children to use the internet to research the new area in which they will be living, and the surrounding attractions, will create excitement about the move.

Once in the new home, children may find it easier to adjust if it has familiar items. This may mean parents have to hold out on buying new furniture or changing décor.

“It might be tempting to redecorate as soon as you move into the new home but it is important to pace the changes and allow time for children to settle into the new environment first,” Goslett says.

Setting up childrens’ bedrooms should be a priority, before doing anything else in the home, as their rooms will provide refuge in the chaos of moving and help them settle.

Depending on circumstances, Goslett says parents can take their children to visit their old towns or neighbourhoods, and invite their friends from the old areas to their new homes.

“Even if it’s brief, the reconnection with the past can help the child move forward.”

Visiting new schools with children before they start attending will also ease anxiety, says Goslett.

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