How to Make Moving Easier on Teens

A new home and school don't have to be scary.

mother and teen daughter carrying cardboard boxes
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Moving to a new home in a new city is stressful for everyone, but it can be especially difficult for teenagers. Some children embrace moving as an opportunity to make new friends and to learn new things, but many are wary of being uprooted and having to re-establish themselves in a new school.

Giving up the familiar—friends, favorite places, and routines— is not easy for anyone. As parents focus on coordinating the moving process, some children react negatively to the decrease in attention.

Feelings of loss or frustration can be magnified if the reason for the move is due to a family crisis like divorce or death.

While it's important to acknowledge your teenager's unhappiness with a move, there are some ways to try to reduce some of the more traumatic aspects of moving. 

Involve children in the move as early and as much as possible. Age-appropriate tasks or responsibilities can help children have a sense of control over their situation, which is always key. For instance, younger children might be allowed to select where they would like to sleep and how their new bedroom will be decorated. A teenager could be more directly involved in the decision-making, and accompany parents on tours of potential houses, if possible. 

Try to stick to daily routines as much as possible. While children are adjusting to new homes, neighborhoods, and schools, parents can provide some comfort by keeping some things the same.

Sticking to the same morning and bedtime routines, and meal times will give a small bit of order to the chaos, at least until all the boxes have been unpacked.

Give them a break.  Despite parents' best efforts, there are no guarantees a teen will like his new school, neighborhood, or living arrangement.

It won't be easy, but try to see it from their perspective, and talk openly with children about their anxieties. It may be challenging to pry information from an unhappy teenager, so it's OK to give him space. Just reassure him that you're sympathetic to his feelings, and want to help ease the transition however you can. 

Help children make new friends and get them involved in their new communities. Participating in activities such as camps, after school programs, and neighborhood clubs is one way for children to make new friends. Also, adults can use these activities to meet other parents in the neighborhood. Try not to push too hard if your child isn't immediately receptive to a new group of kids or a new activity. Remember, they need to feel some sense of control in this situation, so give them time to adjust. 

Visit your child's new school. Many schools offer an orientation program for new students, which can be especially comforting for younger children. For teenagers, knowing the lay of the land is important too, and if they prefer to get the tour without a parent present, give them a little room.


Look for warning signs of children not adjusting well. Long-term anxiety, depression, significant disruptions in sleep, poor socialization, and falling grades may indicate that children need professional mental health services to help them adjust to their new environment. Don't hesitate to seek help if your concerned that your child isn't bouncing back from the trauma of the move.

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