Updated: Apr 7, 2022
How can you help and prepare your child for a Big Move? Here is our top-10-tips-list to do, create, explore, learn and connect as a family!
“Children are flexible, they adjust easily!” is a sentence commonly used by people to express a young child preparing for a move. Children learn how to adapt to a situation that is a fact. But recent studies show that, starting at the age of 5, children’s cognitive and social-emotional functioning are affected when moving. For example, impeded school performance, disrupted friendships, increased anxiety, declined social skills, and increased changes in behavior. This is concerning given that many children move, on average 2.5 times between birth and 15 years, with some moving up to 11 times.
Is it all bad then? No certainly not, TCK experts show that moving is also a great opportunity to learn new things and create a growth mindset. Children learn at a young age to make new friends, try out new things and become open minded to new worlds. Research shows that Third Culture Kids (TCK’s) are more resilient, open minded and more emphatic. All very important life skills. But this doesn’t happen by itself. What studies agree on and emphasize is that when you as a family stay connected and invest time to help your child during the transition it is less likely that there will be long-lasting negative effects on a child. By guiding your children, it is more likely that they will be more open, build a growth mindset and resilience will increase.
How, you might think? Well, to help you do this, we created a list with our ten best tips for you and your family. The list gives you tools - small and bigger ones- to create meaningful time and to help guide your children. And by doing so, you might even learn a bit yourself! It helps you and the children to make transitions fun, to explore and communicate with each other. Let’s LEARN, GROW and CONNECT!
And if, after reading and doing these tips, you like to have more of this? Have a look at the Me and My Big Move workbook. This fun and creative workbook guides kids through every step of a Big Move, and empowers them in a creative way. Before, during, and long after the Big Move.
Now, get ready for our TOP 10!
1. Talk together. Take time to talk about the event; before, during and after the Big Move. Invest time to create a nice setting to tell the Big news. And during the entire period of preparing, moving and settling in: stay connected. We know it’s one of the busiest times. It helps to schedule in time to talk, take your time to adjust and let there be space to talk about the transition. See what works well for your family to communicate. For example, you can talk while playing a game, during dinner, when you are out for a walk, or when drawing together. The Face it game (download the game here) helped our families while in transition to talk about feelings.
2. Establish new routines – Routines and rituals are very important. Kids love routines, although they won’t always admit. It can help children feel safe during uncertain or changing times. Keep up with your old routines and try to create a few ones. This can be a Movie night, a special cuddle after school, or one of our favorites: sharing the “top and the flop” at dinner, and the goodnight game “view from my room”. (see our tips here.)
3. Search mode on! Get into the search mode, what does the neighborhood or city look like? Let them search for some fun facts, places to go, the flag, the language etc. Walk together through google street view, look for some movies or series about the area. And if possible plan a site visit – be a tourist together! We have some very special freebies to explore >> the color walk, the neighborhood bingo. You can create your own bingo or talk about the differences in place, house and neighborhood, draw them together or even make it a game! Who can draw the most differences? Are you excited about these changes?
4. Let your feelings guide you! - Small children can get stressed about moves too, although they won’t easily show and are able to put into words how they feel. It is especially important in this time of transition to talk about feelings. And actively listen! Try not to minimize their concerns, take them seriously and explain in the best way you can. A great tool that can help to talk about emotions is “The FACE it game” available on our website. By making it fun and putting it in words, children will learn it is ok to feel all kinds of emotions and that they are there to guide them!
5. Create your good goodbyes! Take time to say goodbye. Saying goodbye is not a one day event, it is a process of closure and new beginnings. And what helped us a lot is to keep in mind that when a goodbye makes you feel emotional it means that person means a lot to you! Make your goodbye a GOOD goodbye and combine them with tip number 9: Stay in touch!
6. Involve the kids! Depending on their age you can let them be involved. Show them the house and ask them how to decorate the house or garden, let them give feedback. Let them feel they are and will be heard. Is there something they can choose? Let them! Do you find this hard? Try to give them 2 options.
7. Move together! Give your child a task! It will engage them and feel more in control. For example, let them be in charge of packing their clothes, let them draw their new room, let them search for a way to go to their new school or for new activities they can join in the neighborhood. On the moving day you can give them tasks as well. Let your child sticker the boxes (numbers, colors to divide rooms) or let them color one of their boxes.
8. Log the move! Let them take pictures of the house, the neighborhood and other favorite spots. Don’t forget to log your moving day! How and how long do you have to travel? And eventually on the day itself how long did you travel? And your stuff? Did the boxes travel with you? Create your own neighborhood map or memory mind map.
9. Stay in touch! After saying goodbye, it is even more important to stay in touch with your friends and family. It is you who moved and you who should get in contact. For children, it can be comforting to see their friends and family on facetime or to send them a postcard, play an online game together or send a video. Having a hard time scheduling the calls? Create a stay in touch clock to make it visible for your child to call or contact their friends and family and download the friends cards to keep the connections alive!
10. Practice gratitude! During times of change things are hectic and will not always go as planned. A nice way to stay positive and look at the bright side is to practice gratitude. Be Thankful! List 5 things you are grateful for every day, write them down, or say them out loud. You can enjoy this together and play “The game of Gratitude”. You will notice the difference in you and your children after a few games already. You can find the gratitude game here.
And while we are listing our top 10, we must share one last thought that we have learned during all our moves.
Children look at you! They will look at you, feel you and copy you and your feelings about the move. So, it’s good to be open, share your feelings, show them that it’s ok to be a bit worried or scared. And YES! share your positive thoughts, be flexible, be open and be FUN!
The best example is you.
Are you interested in more ideas, tips and ready to use templates all wrapped up in a beautiful keepsake? Then have a look at Me and My Big Move here.
We wish you a beautiful experience and a fun adventurous journey. Stay connected and enjoy your Big Move!