How to Talk to Your Children About Moving

September 23, 2022

This content was created in collaboration with Dr. Phil, a spokesperson for Sundae.

Moving can be a stressful time for everyone, especially children. There are ways to get your children engaged and excited about this new adventure, though.

No matter the reason, moving can be stressful. This is especially true for children. They are often up and leaving their friends and families and their schoolmates.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry calls moving “one of the most stress-producing experiences a family faces. Frequent moves or even a single move can be especially hard on children and adolescents.” As anyone who’s moved as a child knows, it can be a difficult road to travel.

The good news is that there’s a lot parents can do to help their children acclimate and even get excited about a move after selling their home, whether it’s simply to a new home in the same community or if it’s across the country.

Here are six ways you can get the conversation going with your children around an upcoming move to deal with the emotional side of real estate decision-making. Read on for his insight on talking with your children about moving.

Communicate early and often about the move

Don’t let your children find out about your move when you start packing up your home. While they may not get a say in if you’re moving or not, your children will appreciate having some time to get used to the idea. You’ll want to give them an explanation of why the move is necessary so they understand and can process the reason for this uprooting of your family’s life.

Help them explore the new area

If you’re moving nearby, take them to your new home and its surroundings and let them see it and explore it on foot. Check out the closest park, eat at a restaurant you think might become the family’s new local hangout, and visit with any friends who live nearby.

Another great way to explore is by having your children involved in local activities such as sports, music, or other extracurriculars of interest. It’s a great way to meet friends, both as an adult and for your children. Many schools, especially in middle and high schools, will offer these activities without you having to worry about cost. Some schools will allow you to tour and visit in advance of the first day, too. If the move is a long-distance one, get your children acquainted with the area via photographs, videos, maps, and online sites.

Pick out a few exciting places to visit once you move

Theme-park loving children might be excited to know they’re moving a few miles from a giant amusement park. Outdoorsy ones may enjoy the promise of easy access to biking or hiking trails. Or maybe it’s just the downtown area that’s a mile down the road with plenty of free entertainment like live music. Think of it as selling your children on your decision by appealing to what they enjoy doing. Adding some “fun” into a move can help make it seem a little less like work and give everyone something to look forward to once the boxes are unpacked.

Even exploring your new house or neighborhood presents a good way to bond. Parents can take this opportunity to consciously carve out some parent- child activity that they’ve been meaning to do. Perhaps it’s cooking dinner together or playing a board game. The point is that your children will appreciate the quality time either way.

Get them involved in decorating their new room or other parts of the home

Now might be the time to finally paint your child’s new bedroom all purple or splurge on a new rug or bed they’ve picked out. Or maybe you hit the discount shop and let them buy a few knick knacks to personalize their new digs. Adolescents or children may want to get more involved in picking out bigger ticket items like a new couch for the TV room or a gaming chair. When children feel like they have a say in the look and feel of the new house and their new room, that will help even out the bumps they’ll feel when walking into a new school and the pain of having to start over with friends and activities.

Set up ways for your children to keep in touch with their old friends

In this digital age, it’s never been easier for children to keep in touch with the people you’ve left behind in the move. Sure, you can go the pen pal route. But with one-click video calls and the ability to play online games while chatting with friends, children have all sorts of options that will keep them in contact with friends and loved ones. Older children who have their own phones may barely miss a beat, while younger ones can get mom and dad’s help with regularly scheduled online meetups with their pals. Try setting a time once a week or so with their besties to keep everyone connected.

Create scenarios where your children can meet new friends

If you’re moving in summer, then camps or other recreational activities can be a great way to get children involved in the local community instead of staring at a screen in their bedroom all day. Join an area pool, sign the children up for tennis, or simply show up at the skatepark to shred. Participating in after-school activities — everything from art class to soccer to intro to robotics — can help children forge deeper friendships beyond the playground and keep children busy.

As parents, it’s important to remember that your attitude around the move will help shape your children’s attitude as well. You can acknowledge the difficulty of moving and how hard it is to leave routines and comforts and friendships behind, while also getting excited about taking this new adventure together as a family.

Simplifying the home selling process

For more information about selling your home, check out Sundae’s Marketplace, which connects home sellers with investors ready to make offers. You can close in as little as 10 days on the offer you deem best. Sundae takes care of all the minutia, while you get to concentrate on making your next home your best home yet.

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Dr. Phillip C. McGraw is a paid spokesperson for Sundae and made this content in partnership with the company. The views and opinions expressed by Dr. McGraw are solely his own and do not reflect those of CBS Media Ventures.

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Erin B

Erin Behan is a writer and editor covering real estate investor strategy for Sundae. She's lived in L.A., New York, and Atlanta and currently resides in Portland, Oregon, where she writes and edits for a number of outlets, including WebMD, Farmers Insurance, and Vox Creative. She spends her free time hiking with her two boys, snuggling with her cat, and enjoying the best of the Pacific Northwest.