Making the move: How to tackle emotions of adjusting to a new home
1. How to involve my child?
2. How to be supportive?
3. How to reach out?
A new job offer, living closer to relatives, or simply yearning for warmer weather are some of the reasons why families move to Palm Beach County. While many aspects of the move are exciting, your children may experience a range of emotions about the lifestyle change.
Here's how to ease the transition and make your new Florida home an adventure for everyone, according to a local family counselor.
1. HOW DO I INVOLVE MY CHILD?
You can expect stress levels to rise whenever your child adjusts to change. So talk about what the change means, says Michelle Bello, senior therapist for Community Partners of South Florida’s Positive Parenting Program, known as Triple P. Watch for anger, sadness or withdrawal.
“When caregivers are headed into a situation where it may be challenging for their children, coming up with a way to deal with emotions beforehand can be helpful,” she says. “Involve your child when coming up with the plan.”
Bello recalls a case when a family didn’t inform their 2-year-old daughter of their plans to move, so she became distraught when her room was packed up. She thought her parents were throwing away her toys, but her anxiety eased when they told her about their new home.
2. HOW CAN I BE SUPPORTIVE?
Try to frame your move in the best possible terms, Bello says. Read books or look at websites about your new home and community, make plans about ways to explore it and, if possible, visit the new town beforehand.
“If they are losing beloved friends, help them stay connected with FaceTime or Zoom calls. Even the youngest of children will look forward to seeing their friends online,” she says. “And once settled, try to maintain as much of their old routine as possible.”
3. HOW CAN I REACH OUT?
Just like your children, you may move away from your routines, trusted resources and good friends. Social media is a great place to find a like-minded community.
“There are good and bad things about social media; this is one of the good things,” Bello says. “You can find Facebook groups that focus on parenting, mothers or children with specific needs in your new community. Consider it a starting place for new friends, for you and your children.”
She suggests counseling if your child is sensitive to change or expresses anger, sadness or withdrawal for more than a couple of months. A counselor could help before and as you move if your child is extremely sensitive to change or is prone to high anxiety. Locally, Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County and Center for Child Counseling offer services. Fees are based on a sliding scale if you don’t have insurance.
Of course, if you’re excited about the move, your child will absorb that enthusiasm.
“Children are always looking to the adults in their lives to show them the way,” Bello says. “How are you reacting to the move? Remember, they are watching your cues as well.”
• Michelle Bello, senior therapist of Positive Parenting Program, Community Partners of South Florida
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