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Ways to Help Your Children Cope With Moving

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You’ve received your PCS orders. Now, between packing and looking for a new home, you’ll have another big job to do if you’re a military parent – helping your children cope with moving.

Military families move frequently, and this can be both an exciting and challenging time for children and teens. Keep in mind while you’re busy preparing, that they may need extra attention and help with this transition.

Children learn as much from what parents do as what parents say, so if you can manage your move with skill and confidence, that will help teach your children to do the same.

Learn more about the array of relocation assistance and comprehensive moving resources available to help you and your family master your move. And use the following tips to help your children have a smooth transition.

Prepare your children for the move

As part of the military community, you know that mission success is all about being prepared. Good results follow good preparation. Preparing your children for the move will make it easier for them to adjust. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Alert your children to the move ASAP. Just like you, they need time to prepare and adjust to the idea of saying goodbye to their friends and moving to a new community. For small children, check out the helpful relocation resources offered by Sesame Street for Military Families, including the Big Moving Adventure mobile app.
  • Listen to your children and provide answers. Your children may have lots of questions or may need some space during this transition. Answer their questions as best you can, and be patient with yourself and your children during this time. Allow everyone to express their feelings, and try to give everyone the time they need to adjust to upcoming changes.
  • Let your children help. Get them involved with the moving preparations. Help your children research their new school, nearby parks and installation activities. Teens may be able to search online for housing and scout out their new school or fun things to do on the new installation. Older youth and teens can help pack household goods, and younger children can pack their own belongings, favorite items or “first day box.” Check out more moving tips from the Military OneSource Blog Brigade.
  • Reassure your children. Tell them that you love them, and assure them that together the family will adjust to their new home. Stay positive and keep them involved. Try to emphasize the exciting parts of change, like learning about new places and meeting new people. Your children take their cues from you. Remind them that you’re a strong family and that new adventures await!
  • Celebrate your children’s favorite things. Before the move, make a point to take some family time to visit your favorite parks, restaurants, recreation spots and other favorite places. Have them take something special or a photo from one of those places to the new house. Encourage your child to find a new favorite place in your new location.
  • Look ahead. Spend time with your children researching their new school, area parks and base activities. Make a list of new places they want to explore or new activities they want to try. Focus on the fun.

Help your children adjust to their new home and school

After your initial planning, there are several steps you can take to help your children transition smoothly to their new home and school.

  • Consult with your installation’s school liaison. Most installations have a school liaison to serve as a bridge between schools and military families. School liaisons are your primary point of contact for all school-related matters for children grades pre-K through 12. They can help you and your family navigate school selections, transfer credits and register for classes, locate after school activities, connect with youth sponsorship programs, find special education support and much more. Find your installation school liaison contact information on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
  • Learn how school liaisons help geo-dispersed families. School liaisons can be helpful in assisting all children and teens who attend schools that may be unfamiliar with military-connected students and MilLife challenges, including families with special education needs.
  • Request a sponsor. Military sponsors are trained service members who help other service members and families before, during and after a relocation. Sponsors are assigned through your unit and are typically of the same rank and family status. Learn more about how sponsors help you get settled into your new home.
  • Look into the Youth Sponsorship Program. Many installations give youth the chance to meet a new friend and become acquainted with their new installation through the installation’s youth program. Where available, they can exchange emails, talk on the phone or chat online. Contact your new installation youth program office for more information.
  • Remain patient with your children. If they weren’t nervous before, they may be now that you’ve moved and they are navigating a new school, neighborhood and friends. Listen, support and be there for your children during the transition. If you feel like your child would benefit from talking to a professional counselor, learn more about child and youth behavioral military life counselors. These counselors understand the issues military-connected children and teens face and can be especially helpful during challenging periods, including PCS moves and deployments.
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Check out this MilLife Guide to find fun videos, counseling resources and more to help your child and your family strengthen community bonds.

  • Smooth your children’s entry into school. To help military families ensure their children and teens can enroll in needed classes, participate in extra-curricular activities and graduate on time, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have signed the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. Here’s how the compact helps you and your children have an easier transition to a new school:
    • Enrolling is easier. Using unofficial, hand-carried records from your old school allows your students to enroll without delay, before the official transcript arrives. You also have 30 days to obtain any needed immunizations.
    • Getting key classes. Rest assured that your children will be placed in appropriate required classes, advanced placement and special needs programs while awaiting evaluation at their new school. The new school can assess your child but can’t put your child in a “holding class” during the assessment time.
    • Playing sports and other extracurricular activities right away. If your child is eligible, the new school will facilitate participation in extracurricular activities even if application deadlines or tryouts have passed.
    • Graduating. The compact helps to ensure the move will not affect your high schooler’s graduation

Your installation school liaison can help you understand the compact and navigate any transition issues you and your children may experience. Find more information and resources through the Department of Education and the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission websites.

Smart planning and being a strong and caring role model for your children can help you and your family make a smooth move. For other support, Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7/365 anywhere in the world to help answer your questions and connect you with the resources your family needs to thrive. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS calling options or schedule a live chat.

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