How to Tell Your Kids You’re Moving

Moves are hard on kids. Even if they're only across town, moves disrupt routines, taking kids away from old friends and familiar surroundings. While breaking the news is never easy, there are ways for parents to help cushion the blow. A straightforward but gentle approach works best. If you’re about to sit down and tell your kids you’re moving, here are a few tips to make the discussion (and the move!) run a little smoother.

Family of four sitting on couch together

Don’t Wait

Kids need time to process their emotions, so tell them as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be on them. Choose a comfortable setting and be direct. Children respond well to honesty and they need the facts in order to adjust.

Tell Them Why You’re Moving

Change is stressful, but knowing why helps kids come to terms with it. Explain the reasons you’re moving in a way they can comprehend. Once they understand why it's happening, it’ll be easier for them to cope.

Tell Them When You’re Moving

Kids need a timeframe in order to say goodbye. Once they know how long they have, they can start making plans and work out what they want to do before they leave. No doubt there will be friends and places they want to visit before they go. Talking about what’s important will help them make the most of their time in their old home.

Rehearse Your Answers

Before sitting down with your kids, think of the questions they might ask. Knowing how to respond is both reassuring and constructive. By addressing their anxieties, you’re giving them the tools to process their emotions.

Explain What Will Change & What Won’t

Walking your children through the move creates a sense of continuity. Imagining life in their new home helps them prepare for it. Knowing that not everything will change eases the stress of the transition.

Be Positive

Emphasize the positive aspects of the move. Give them at least three things to get excited about. Maybe they’ll get their own bedroom or they’ll be closer to their grandparents or they’ll have a bigger backyard. Remember, it’s tough for children to think abstractly, so make sure whatever you talk about is concrete and tangible.

Be Prepared for Tears

No matter how gently you break the news, it's likely your kids will still be upset. The best thing you can do in this situation is acknowledge their feelings. Let them know you’re going to miss your old home as well, so they know you understand what they’re going through. It will strengthen your connection and make it easier for them to open up to you later.

Give Them Space

Sometimes the best way to help your kids is to let them go off on their own. Time alone gives them a chance to work through their emotions and gain perspective. Let them know you’ll be there for them when they’re ready to talk.

Make Them Part of the Move

No matter how upset they get, it’s important to remember children are resilient. They may be overwhelmed when you tell them you're going to move, but they’ll bounce back eventually. One of the best ways to help is to involve them in the moving process. For instance, you could:

  • Search for your new house together
  • Put them in charge of packing up their room
  • Ask them to research fun things to do in their new neighborhood

Making your children part of the move empowers them and gives them a sense of control. In many cases, it may also help transform moving from an ordeal into an adventure.