helping children cope with moving

When my husband’s new job prompted our move to California in early 2011, my youngest child had just turned three  and my oldest was eight and a half.  Not only did I take on the demands of homeschooling my two very different kids (in both age and personality), but I was still adjusting to a new climate and environment, trying to make new friends, attempting to find my way around the city by bus and car, figuring out how to use the laundromat, and unpacking for what would be a short six month stint at our apartment rental on the beach before we moved to our house further inland.  So, I had another move on the horizon and I was mentally going nuts just trying to wrap my brain around it.  I definitely wasn’t ready for another move.

Meanwhile, I had two kids, one of which was going through her “terrible two’s” at three.  Why she waited to express herself right during our move is beyond me…but it definitely made our lives a lot more exciting. (On hindsight, I really do understand why she acted out while moving. Leaving everything behind is tough stuff for a little one).

There were plenty of sleepless nights as our little one crawled into bed next to us or acted out by crying and throwing fits in the middle of public places (like church or grocery stores).  Needless to say, she didn’t take the move very well and missed her old house, her old friends, and her grandma and grandpa.  It was sad for her and I felt her pain, but I knew our move was crucial to our livelihood.  We needed the money, and in the end, the move would prove to be ultimately in our favor.  This new job was just the push forward to help us financially and further my husband’s career in IT cybersecurity. And…California was a most beloved state on my list for “re-visit” since I’d first moved out here in the 80’s with my parents and then moved away.  So I was glad to be back…but I felt the pain of leaving family and friends as much as my children did.  Only, sometimes it’s hard to really connect to our kids when we see everything through the lenses of the adult perspective.

During this season of my life, I had to figure out how to restructure my parenting style a bit to meet the new demands of raising children who had just been stripped away from everything they knew.   Although my 8 year old was probably the hardest-hit emotionally, my three year old woke up to the fact three months down the road that we weren’t just on one big, gigantic vacation, but that we had really moved for good.  And it was the final straw for her.  So we went through a stage of tantrums and fits, crying incessantly, and then not talking.  And that wasn’t good for anyone in the family.  To know that she was silently grieving, refusing to play or talk to anyone, when she would normally be happily jumping off the living room couch, broke me down to helpless tears as I struggled to find a way to bring my baby back to “life” again.

I prayed a lot during this time.  My faith in God helped me to get through this and to figure out how to best parent my kids who were feeling lonely.  I started to read more about parenting, and the faster I could whip through a parenting book from the library, the better.  I read and read and read until I felt I understood completely what my children my be feeling and how to best connect with them and meet their needs.

I also found some great resources online that helped me to figure out what to expect in each of my kids’ different stages.  Knowing a little about child development helped me to know my child holistically. I felt that I could better understand how to meet her needs.

So, if you’re going through something similar with your family, here are some online resources that  you might find helpful in helping children cope with moving:

  1. Zero To Three– If you’re just wanting to find out what the professionals say about behavior development, nutrition and health, social development, or play, you can find a wealth of information at this site about child development. You’ll find some good videos to help clarify what to expect in your children’s stages and suggestions on parenting your zero to threes.  Sure, there are some other sites that are more mom-friendly, but this is definitely a great resource.
  2. NAEYC’s online radio – So it’s a bit lofty for the average parent since the organization was developed to predominantly assist child care centers nationwide with their programming…but it doesn’t mean some of the tidbits can’t help a parent.
  3. Parent Further- This is a great site for encouraging families to go beyond the basics of being just a mom and dad, and take it a step further by becoming truly involved. This website is broken down into categories such as “ages and stages”, “discipline and values”, and “time together” with wonderfully clear articles and suggestions for each.  There is even a section on high risk behaviors (such as drug use) and a guide to e-parenting your kids as they explore cyberspace and technology.  This is helpful as I raise my now 10 -year-old daughter who is completely tech-savvy and needs my overseeing prowess a lot more than she believes.
  4. First Five California– Okay, of course I had to mention this one, being that I moved to California and all.  But no matter where you live, this is an excellent resource for learning more about the stages your children may be in.  Complete with fun activity suggestions, a learning center (to help mom or dad understand their child’s development), and health center, most of your bases are covered here.
  5. ParentCenter– This site is more of a hybrid between professional advice and real-mom talk (especially if you join the message boards over at connected site I’ve used and like this one a lot.  Again, it covers your basic stages of development
  6.– There is a great article about helping children to cope with moving.  Helpful stuff if you know you need to move or you are a military family that moves around a lot.
  7.– another great one!  Of course, they’re only one of the most popular parenting magazines on the bookshelves, so who can miss this one.  Very mom-friendly and articles are short and easy to digest tidbits of info that help you get the info you’re looking for quickly.

So those are just a few of my favorite online parenting resources which helped me get through the “terrible three’s”. They also helped me learn more about my own 3 year old so that I could help her through her moving blues.  Maybe you’ll find a resource you really like and let me know?

Until next time…