My nephew recently moved, changing cities, schools and of course, homes and while he really didn't want to move, after three months of being in his new house, school and neighborhood, he's settled in and happy about the change.
Not wanting to move is normal. Leaving behind everything that's familiar is always difficult. Just remember that you're not alone and that what you're feeling is normal, too.
So, according to my nephew and other teens I know, here are some tips to coping with a move:
- Ask questions. Most of the teens I spoke to about moving said that the number one thing they would do, if they had to move again, would be to ask lots of questions. To their parents, they'd ask why they're moving and if there's an alternative to moving, what they are expecting from the move in terms of things being better, and if they (the teens) can pick their own school. The teens also suggested asking questions of teachers, parents of friends, employers, etc.. if they have any experience with this kind of change. Also, if you're not moving too far, people may provide you with contacts and names of schools you might want to check out.
- Talk about the move. Even if you're mad at your parents, talk to them about the move. Tell them how you're feeling, what you're experiencing and ask them for advice. If you're not comfortable talking to your parents, then talk to your friends, your friend's parents, teachers or coaches. Try to express your anxieties and frustration or, if you're feeling good about the move, then the excitement, too. Remember, people care about you and want to know what you're thinking.
- Keep a journal or blog. Not everyone likes to write, but even if you don't, jot down thoughts and feelings just before you go to sleep. Try to also express the things that are positive about the moves, whether it's finally getting your own room or the skate park that is close to your new house or that you have a chance to make new friends. Don't be afraid to write down the things you'd like to do in the new place, whether it's getting on the soccer team or taking up a new instrument. Remember, moving is also your opportunity to start off new, to begin somewhere else - fresh.
- Get involved in the move. Even if you're not happy about the move, helping out will make you feel a little more in control of things. Pack your room. Go with your parents to find the new house or help with household fixes. The more you're involved, the smoother the move will be. Being physically involved in the move will help you mentally prepare for the change.
- Talk to your parents about making plans for a return visit. Knowing you're returning, even for a visit, will make it easier to leave. Maybe spend part of your holidays with a friend.
- Research. Do research on your new neighborhood, city or country. Find stuff that you'd like to see and do. Check out schools, cafes and sport activities. If you're interested in joining a local team or club, contact the person in charge before you move, then you'll already have some people there that you know.
- Read books or blogs. Check out books about teens who've moved or read personal blogs of people that are in the same situation as you. It helps to know that you're not alone. It's also a great way of figuring out how you feel about the move and maybe make it easier to talk to your parents about it. If there's a book or blog that really comes close to expressing your experience, give it to your parents to read. Tell them that this is how you're feeling so they have a better understanding of what you're going through.
- Allow yourself time to say goodbye. Take the time to say goodbye. Host a party or have a fun night out with friends. Spend a day with your best friend doing all the things you love to do. Maybe there's a cafe where you used to go every Saturday morning. Make sure you take time out to visit it again before you go. Take photos. Write stories. Exchange a favorite article of clothing with a friend.