Moving is a big transition for a child. Many children have a difficult time adjusting to a move. To help understand what type of impact a move can have on a child’s overall life and how a parent can help their child adjust to a move, I have interviewed therapist C. Blair Skinner, LMFT.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in early childhood trauma, working with families with young children, and I maintain a private practice in Broomfield, Colorado. With over ten years experience as a therapist, and a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary I am currently a private practitioner working with a broad spectrum of clients, primarily young children. I work with a Delta certified therapy dog named Winnie and am the editor of the Colorado Association of Marriage and Family Therapists quarterly newsletter.”
What type of impact can a move have on a child’s overall life?
“Moves can be very stressful for young children. They have no control over the changes that are happening in their lives. Leaving friends, their school, teachers, neighbors and familiar surroundings can be difficult and confusing for children depending on their age. Young children may worry about their toys which are being boxed up, they may even wonder if they are going to get to take their things with them. They may wonder about the new school, if they will be able to make new friends and if their new teacher will like them. The time of year of the move is important to think about, if the move is over the summer they may not have the opportunity to say goodbye to their classmates and friends, and if the move is in the middle of the year, they may need assistance making a transition mid-year.”
How can a parent help their child adjust to a move?
“Talking about the move and giving kids as many choices as possible about packing, choosing a room, decorating, and maintaining contacts with friends are great ways to help a child adjust to a move. Encourage children to make pictures, cards or some token for their teacher, their friends and anyone else they might miss. Talking with them about how to make new friends and even if its possible to let them tour their new school or neighborhood ahead of the move can be very helpful.”
What type of professional help is available for a child who is having a difficult time adjusting to a move?
“Most children will not require professional help to adjust to a move. If your child is suffering significant anxiety after the move, I would first recommend talking with them about ways to calm down when they are worried like taking deep breaths, using “cool thoughts” like “I’m going to be okay, calm down, I know how to be a good friend, etc.” If you are still concerned, talk with the school counselor, teacher or, depending on your level of concern, a child therapist. Watch for signs of anxiety and depression such as sleeplessness, depressed mood, and significant change in activity level, appetite or behavior, which can signal the need for extra help. Keep in mind that therapy and early intervention is typically very successful for children and they rarely have the same stigma about getting help that adults do. One of my main goals in doing therapy with young kids is for them to have a good experience so that if and when they need help again as an adult they see it as a positive option.”
Thank you Blair for doing the interview on how a parent can help their child adjust to a move. For more information on C. Blair Skinner or her work you can check out her website on www.blairskinner.com or contact her (720) 980-4034.
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