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Helping your kids

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For many children - particularly those in their early teens - moving home can be quite a trying ordeal. Every situation and every child is different. Some are very blasé and even get excited about the whole thing, while others can suffer behavioural problems, tantrums or simply get very upset.

We have tried hard to identify some common problems and symptoms and have suggested a possible course of action that could either solve or prevent the problem. There is no guarantee that anything other than time will help the situation but trying usually doesn't hurt.

They throw a wobbler as soon as you tell them about the move and carry on having tantrums.

Try and introduce the idea slowly. Gradually get them thinking about living somewhere else. We can't tell you how best to do this as we don't know how your children's minds work. If a child is used to the possibility of the idea, then the thought of moving for real might not have such a big impact. It's not necessarily such a good idea to do this with older children - if they guess what you're up to then it could backfire. Once you've told them, show them where it is on a map, tell them a story about the area or even browse the Internet with them to see what you can find about your new area.

Try not to let them feel left out of the whole process.

The feeling that everything is being decided without their input is one of the major causes of children turning against the idea of a move, especially amongst teenagers who often feel they have a given right to decide anything they feel like. Discuss things with them and make sure they are aware of the reasons why you are moving. Take them to the new home and show them round the area. Visit the park or cinema and let them get a feel for where they are going to be living. When it comes to packing, let them decide what they throw away and what they keep. Forcing them to throw away what you consider to be old junk may be a very bad idea. Get younger kids to help you colour in and stick on labels (though keep half an eye on what they are doing or you may find that your careful planning is sabotaged) and don't force teenagers to do any of the cleaning.

They hate their new room.

If you can, let them pick their own room, though this is less easy when you have more than one child who is old enough to understand. If you have older children discuss their needs with them and see if they would mind their younger siblings having first choice. Allowing older children to have full control (within reason) of the décor and layout of their new room is probably a good move. It might not be to your taste but if it keeps the peace and helps them settle in more easily, it must be worth it.

They are missing their old life or seem unsettled.

Talk to them. Find out what the problem is. Try to let younger children understand that they are not saying goodbye forever and that they will see their friends again. If it is practical, why not invite some of their friends over to stay once you are settled in. It will give them something to look forward to and help them not to feel isolated. Suggest that they write to their friends if visiting them is difficult. Keeping in touch with friends one way or another is a good thing to encourage them to do.

If it is a girlfriend or boyfriend that they are pining over, give them some space. You wouldn't understand…

We'd like to build up this section with more problems and remedies that you have found to work. Please send us the details.

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