How to help children cope with a pending move


Q: My 7-year-old daughter has big emotions, big love, big anger, big sadness, big everything. You have taught me to embrace all these emotions and just be there for her. My new issue is that we’re moving from Canada to the United States in three weeks for my husband’s work. In addition to my daughter, I have a 10-year-old son with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Do you have any suggestions on how I can make this transition easier for them? My daughter has been acting out lately and letting me know that she doesn’t want to go. This move is only for approximately one year, and we’ll be back home to visit at Christmas.

A: Congrats, and I am sorry. Why both? Because that’s how most big transitions are. A move is exciting and new, but it is also filled with stress and unknowns. For children, this is doubly true. I am guessing that the children have not had a big move like this before, and I want to reassure you that they are resilient. Change is hard, but when children can trust that their relationships with you will stay the same, they can handle a great deal of it, including this move. It’s also clear that you are a tuned-in parent, so although there will be struggles, I am confident that you will be able to navigate them with empathy.

In terms of making the transition easier for your children, I am going to begin with you. Children, even a 7- and 10-year-old, are soaking in your energy all of the time. If you are organized, calm, hopeful and tapped into your emotions, they can follow your lead.

You are under even more pressure because this is a temporary move. You are establishing your family life in another city (new schools, new doctors, new parks, new friends, new activities) only to know that you will return to your previous life in 12 months. This isn’t a problem, but it’s another layer to…

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