Moving With Children: Reduce Moving Stress

Moving can be hard on the entire family, especially children.  The following information will help you through the moving process from planning to unpacking to reduce the amount of moving stress.

Emotionally Taking A Positive Approach

When a family is planning to relocate, the reaction of the parents to the upcoming changes is most important. Children normally reflect their parents’ attitudes. Accentuate the positive. A positive parental attitude will go a long way toward soothing fears and creating an atmosphere of pleased anticipation for the children. Remember, moving can be a great personal growth opportunity for all family members, including the children. Take advantage of the situation and make it a truly exciting experience for everyone.

Prepare them in advance for the move. Tell them immediately about the move. Give them time to adjust to the idea. Answer all questions. Explain the reasons for the move as explicitly as necessary, depending on the child’s age. An honest question-and-answer session will give you an idea of the specific concerns your children have about the move. This will give you the chance to resolve their fears and let them know you are interested in their opinions and feelings.
Permit children to participate. This will give them a sense of responsibility and worth.

Choose a professional moving company. A company experienced in moving families will minimize your responsibilities. Then, you can devote more time to the children.

It is difficult to break strong ties to the old home, neighborhood, school, and close friends, but with these steps, you can ease the insecure feelings some children experience when removed from familiar surroundings.

Preparing the Children For the Move

Tell school-age children early that the family will be moving. Don’t let them find out by overhearing conversations. How soon and how much to explain depends upon the ages of the children and their feelings. The major problem facing children is the fear of the “unknown.”

Infants: As long as they are comfortable and their routine undisturbed, they will be the least affected by the move.

Toddlers: To toddlers, a minute and a month are only words. They need to know only that the family is moving soon. The main thing is to assure them that when the family goes, the toddler goes too. Keep the toddler with you as much as possible while preparations for the move are being made. Let them pack a few of their most treasured possessions even though they may be old and battered. Assisting in small ways will help strengthen the child’s feeling of security, their sense of belonging, and importance as an individual.

Elementary to Preteens: This group is particularly vulnerable to the unsettling effects of moving. Their world is beginning to expand beyond the family circle, and they are especially concerned with how they’ll fit into the new environment. However, studies of fourth to sixth grade children who have moved several times show that they are often better adjusted than children who have not moved at all. They generally adapt quickly to a change in surroundings and take new experiences in stride. Their overall education seems to have benefited as a result of travel and other factors associated with family moves.

Teenagers: The social activities of teens encompass a much wider area, and members of this age group may be disturbed at the thought of relinquishing vital interests and special friendships. For some juniors or seniors, their current school may be critical for a specific internship program or sports scholarship. If this is the case, you may want to allow the teenager to stay in the current location with a relative or family friend until graduation. Where doubt exists about this arrangement, a third-party consultation from a guidance counselor, clergyman, or psychologist may help. Assist your son or daughter by finding out as much about the prospective school as possible. Contact the administrator, guidance counselor and/or athletic coach, if appropriate, for children involved in sports. Ask for the most current issues of the school newspaper, and see if a yearbook can be obtained.

Rap Sessions

Both preteens and teenagers may want to talk about the move and ask questions. Early discussion of the following topics should help older children adjust to the upcoming relocation:

  • Why the move is being made
  • What the new location is like physically
  • Expected advantages of the new area
  • New friends for both parents and children
  • Possibility of having old friends come for a visit
  • The children’s expectations
  • The new home, particularly the children’s rooms, and advantages of the new home over the old
  • When to move

Take Along Suggestions


Make a list of all the baby’s daily needs at home. Take only those items that are absolutely necessary. Send everything else on the moving van.

Here’s a checklist of things to take:

  • Suitable clothing
  • Diaper or utility bag
  • Blankets
  • Disposable diapers
  • Nursers with plastic throwaway liners, nipples, pacifiers
  • Baby food, formula, fruit juice, water, can opener
  • Favorite cuddle toy
  • Baby toiletries – powder, lotions, oil, cotton balls
  • Safety-approved infant car seat
  • First-aid kit (Discuss with your pediatrician any medications you should have on hand. Include a thermometer, baby aspirin and a small hot water bottle which can also be used as an ice bag.)


Traveling with toddlers can be both wearing and fun. They are extremely inquisitive and quick to get away if not watched. A little forethought given to their particular needs will be to your advantage.

Among things to consider:

  • Collapsible stroller
  • Child’s portable car toilet
  • Safety-approved car seat
  • Favorite small toys

Elementary to Preteens

Elementary aged children are at an age where it is easier to keep themselves content during a long trip. Provide them with a few travel games, coloring books and comic books. Let them visit the local variety store for ideas.


Teenagers will probably have their own ideas of travel entertainment but may enjoy favorite books or travel games. Many just enjoy watching the scenery.