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What Kids Who Are Moving Should Do

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Angela, 10, describes the day she found out she was moving: "I was 7 years old when my dad told me we were moving out of the city. I was really excited to finally be getting my own room and maybe even a dog. But I was also very scared I wouldn't make any friends or find my way around my new school."

Evan remembers the day he found out he was moving a little differently: "When I had to move at the end of the sixth grade, it was because my parents were getting divorced. It stunk. In one summer, I had to go from Connecticut to California and get used to everything being new — including living just with my mom."

Angela and Evan are only two of the many thousands of kids who move each year. And the way they felt about the moves — scared, excited, angry — are just a few of the feelings kids have about moving.

Moving isn't easy for anyone, even for adults. And while moving can be a time for some great new things — like your own room or a new place to explore — it can also be a time that's sad and stressful, too. Here are some ways to make a move a little easier.

Talk It Out

When you find out that you're moving, a million thoughts may race through your head. The next place those thoughts should go is simple: out of your mouth! If you're afraid that you won't make new friends, nervous about riding the bus with 30 new kids, or upset because you have to give up your position as captain of the soccer team, don't keep it to yourself. Whatever you're feeling, talk to your mom or dad about it. They'll probably have some good ideas and suggestions.

If you're moving because your parents are getting divorced or because someone died, your family might be under a lot of stress. It's tough to see a parent who's upset, so you might think the best thing would be to keep your feelings to yourself.

But the truth is that it's always better to talk about your feelings, even if your parent seems to have a lot of his or her own worries. Your parent will be glad you shared your feelings — and so will you.

Check Things Out

Finding out about the new place you'll be living can make you feel better for a couple of reasons. First, you'll feel less nervous when you know what to expect, and second, you may start getting a little excited about the new place you're headed to. If you are going to be moving to a town or city nearby, ask a parent to drive you around so you can check things out. Or check out the new place online!

The first thing you'll want to do is see your new house or apartment. If the house or apartment is new, or if nobody is living there, your parent may be able to show you around. This will give you a chance to think about how you want your room to look. And if you run into any kids who live on the street or in the apartment building and you feel like it, say hi to them and introduce yourself. Maybe they'll be future friends.

Your new school is another important stop on this tour. Maybe your mom or dad can arrange a visit, so you'll know what it looks like inside. You might even be able to ask a teacher or school aide to give you a tour so you'll be able to find your way around the school on your first day. If you're into band, sports, or other clubs, ask which activities are offered at your new school — and what to do if you want to join.

If you're moving far away to another part of the country, or even a different part of the world, you'll need to check things out in a different way. Try an Internet search to find out about your new town. You also can visit your library and check for books on that city or state.

Pack It Up

Before you move, your house will probably be full of chaos and boxes. You might want to ask your parent if you can pack a special box of your favorite stuff — stuff you'll want to have as soon as you get there. This can include personal items, such as stuffed animals, photos, and other stuff that will make you feel at home.

It's also a wise idea to include stuff you'll need the first night, such as sheets for your bed, a pillow, pajamas, toothbrush, and other must-haves. Ask that this box be marked with your name on it, so you can grab it when it comes off the moving truck.

Once you've taken care of your most precious stuff, ask if you can help with other moving tasks. Your parents will just love you for it! There's so much to do when a family moves.

Preparing for Goodbye

It's sad to say goodbye to friends, family, and neighbors. You can make it less sad if you load up your cellphone with e-mail addresses, home addresses, and phone numbers. You also can get a big blank book and ask your friends to fill it with messages.

If you have a camera or video camera, take lots of pictures or videos of your friends, your favorite places, and your neighborhood. You can even put together a scrapbook or shoebox full of things that remind you of your hometown and all your friends.

Moving Day

When moving day finally comes, it's OK to feel sad. Many people cry when they leave to move somewhere new. Don't be surprised if grown-ups cry a little, too.

But what do you do when you get there? The grown-ups will probably be pretty busy trying to unpack and set up the new household.

When you get to your new house, unpack your special box of favorite stuff. That will help you feel more at home. You can even hang up pictures of your friends and favorite places to remind you of them. Once again, if you offer to help with the unpacking, your mom or dad will be glad for the help.

Getting Adjusted

Settling in might take a little while. You might wake up in your new room and think, "Where am I?" Take it slow and give the new place a chance. Once your house is growing on you, it will probably be time to start at your new school. You need patience there, too. You might feel funny if you're the new kid, especially if you start school during the year instead of in the fall.

Little by little, you'll make friends and feel at home in your new town. Maybe you were taking karate before, so you'll want to find a new karate school where you can keep working on your green belt. Or maybe being in a new place will inspire you to try something new — like art classes, guitar lessons, or the basketball team. The more kids you meet, the more your new town will feel like home.

And don't forget to keep in touch with your old pals. It can be fun to get email or letters from them and to catch up on what's new. Send postcards from your new city or town or email them a photo of your new room. Maybe your best friend from your old town will be able to visit you sometime. Then you can show off your new city and introduce him or her to your new friends. Old friends and new friends — what a great combination!

Reviewed by: Jennifer Shroff Pendley, PhD
Date reviewed: August 2011

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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