Moving to a new town can be hard for people of any age, but it can be especially challenging for kids in their teen years. Emotions (and hormones!) are running high at this point in a child’s life and that can make it difficult for your child to accept the idea of moving. It is also a socially unique time, as lots of students have a set group of friends that they have grown up with, and this can make it even harder to be the new kid on the block. Use these tips to help ease their minds and make the transition to a new school and new friends go as smoothly as possible.
• Explain to your teen that moving isn’t easy for you, either. Be open and honest about how you feel so your teen will understand that s/he isn’t the only one feeling this way. Empathize with your child and share a story about how you overcame a life change when you were their age. If your teen shuts down, try again another time when they are in a better mood, but don’t give up on this conversation.
• Show your child the positive side to change. Sure, anyone can sulk, pout and make themselves miserable. But, if you choose to look at this move as an adventure and get excited about all of the new experiences your teen will have, the new friends and new activities, it may help them look on the bright side.
• Ask your teen not to fight the move. This is a tough one. It is happening whether they are happy about it or not, so explain how resisting it will only make things more difficult for the whole family. Ask your child to look at this as a fresh start – maybe your child didn’t make the soccer team in his/her old school, but there is now a chance to make the team at the new one. Maybe your child has outgrown his/her circle of friends or has fallen in with the “bad crowd.” This is the opportunity to make new friends and reinvent themselves since no one will have pre-judged them for how they were a couple years ago.
• Get involved in new activities right away after the move. This will practically force your child to make new friends while doing something they enjoy. Sign up for an art class or after-school sport. Not only does physical activity naturally make you feel better, it will give the child the chance to do something they are good at and that also makes them feel better. Plus, it will give you, as the parent, the opportunity to meet some other parents as well!
It’s not going to be easy, but look at the glass as half-full. The coping skills you and your teen learn during this transition will help them better adjust to life changes down the road. And remember to keep in touch with your old friends through social media, texts, calls, etc. because you never know when your paths will cross again.