The Traumas of Moving House

Moving house is in itself a big task and it is also a traumatic experience for a child. Children are very sensitive. They get attached to their surroundings very quickly and if moving house is a routine then it causes a feeling of disorientation in children. Here's how to handle the situation.

The Traumas of Moving House

Living like nomads

Vijaya Pai's husband has a transferable job. She says, "My children have had to change three schools in the last six years. We're expecting to move again next year. We have no choice, but I'm seriously considering sending the kids to boarding school so their education doesn't get disrupted." 

Gayatri Lekhi's father was in the navy and her education was spread over ten different schools. "I hated moving and I begged my father to change his job several times. I really envied people who'd lived in the same house all their lives and had friends who'd been in kindergarten with them. In hindsight, may be it's taught me to adjust to any situation, but I can't say that I enjoyed it."

It's tougher for younger children

Most people think that younger children find it easier to cope because they are too young to form deep attachments and move on to new things easily. The general opinion is that teens have a tougher time letting go. In fact, it is just the opposite. The coping mechanisms and social skills of teens are much more developed. So even if they are the most vocal about their feelings, it is the younger children that are more vulnerable and need greater reassurance from their parents. 

The best time to move

Some parents think it a good idea to move during vacations so that their children will have time to settle down. Other parents like to get their children out of the way when they're moving so that there is one less thing to worry about. But both these approaches could backfire. 

In the first place, it might be difficult for your children to make friends during vacations because most children will be away and it may difficult to find an opportunity to meet other children. If they start school a few days after the move, it makes thing easier for them because they're kept busy for the better part of the day and they meet other children their age. 

The problem with sending children away while you're moving is that if they're not there to be part of the move, they are even more disoriented and find it even more difficult to accept as real when they come back to a perfectly set up new home. It's as if it all happened when they weren't looking.

Be prepared for the whining

Moving may be hard on parents, but it can be harder on their children. Nobody can possibly enjoy packing up their household and having to adjust to an unfamiliar environment every few years. However, most adults can grin and bear it because the benefits are obvious to them like a promotion or a pay hike, but these things are meaningless for children. 

Children do not exercise any such restraint and are usually very vocal in their protests about being uprooted. For them moving means leaving behind everything that is predictable and familiar - their home, their friends, their school - and having to go off into the great unknown with no guarantee that it's going to be any fun. So the minute parents announce that it's time to move again, the whining begins. And it doesn't stop till a few months after the move has been made and the children have begun to find their feet.