Moving with Children – Continued

Since we are on the subject, I just read a journal article
on “Helping Children to Cope with Relocation:” Although it is addressed to educators, the first part contains a lot of interesting
findings on the impact of moving on children, while many of the tips in the
second part apply to parents as well. Definitely worth reading. I’m including some
excerpts that I think are food for thought and discussion.

On how moving does not only affect the mover but
also the “left-behinds:”

One finding of relocation research that is generally overlooked is that all children are affected by a move, particularly the ones who are left behind when a friend moves away (Field, 1984). This conclusion makes sense when we consider that young children fear separation and abandonment above all else and that teenagers’ stated primary reason for attending school is to see their friends (Goodland, 1984; Wolman, 1978). Even adults who are sensitive to children’s needs sometimes overlook the fact that both the best friend who leaves and the best friend who remains behind have to start all over again. In fact, research suggests that, among preschoolers, the children who are left behind may be more agitated for a longer period of time (Field, 1984).

On how children perceive a move as a loss of their natural

Children experience moving as loss of their natural habitat (Gabarino, 1987). Even if the relocation does not involve great distance, it can mean losing a network of people who know, respect and trust the child. Vance Packard (1983) once said that we have to re-establish our credentials every time we move. The familiar ways of interacting with close friends seldom work well with new acquaintances. Strangers may view directness as arrogance, silliness as weirdness, teasing as a threat. Re-establishing credentials is a time-consuming and often frustrating process. Therefore, experts estimate that a child needs at least a year to make an overall adjustment to relocation (Current Health, 1985).
Finally, on the 5 stages of children’s reaction to

Educators must understand that a child’s reaction to the stress of relocation is frequently delayed. Children tend to progress through five stages: 1) contact–feeling excited about exploring the new setting; 2) disintegration–contrasting the old and new environments and feeling disoriented, isolated or depressed; 3) reintegration–rejecting the new environment and feeling anxious, angry, suspicious or hostile; 4) autonomy–regaining balance and feeling less like an outsider as confidence returns; and 5) independence–accepting and appreciating differences between the environments as the adjustment is made (Adler, 1975; Walling, 1990).

For something lighter, here are two lists of “to-dos”
– one addressed to kids and one to adults. Very hands-on and mostly known, but
still good to have it all in one place.

What Kids Who Are Moving Should Do:

Preparing Your Child For a Move:

Looking forward to discussing more!


  1. After reading the material that you posted I am teryfied for you guys(escpecialy Katia). Is Veit still sure moving is good for children?

  2. Not to mention I am worried about Eleni!

  3. Delayed stress – Reminds me of when we moved to Vienna from the countryside, which had been the only home my youngest, who was 5yrs old at the time, had ever known – her reaction to our move had always surprised me, she seemed to be adjusting very well, in fact it was all exciting and fun, she was so easy – about two or three weeks after we had finally moved and were settling in to our new home, she came to me and said "Mummy its been fun but can we go home now!"

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