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Moving? Here Are a Few Tips

If you plan to move this year, there's a lot to know before you go, especially if you have children.

As difficult as a move is for adults, it has a far greater impact on children. Psychologists suggest that moving is the third-most traumatic event in a child's life, after only death and divorce. Not only do the children have to adjust to a new home and school, but make new friends as well.

In today's highly mobile society, relocation is a fact of life. But it doesn't have to be traumatic. There are many things parents can do to make a move easier.

One is to find a new Little League team for their ball-playing children. Many local leagues post signs or bulletins at schools and around the community. Some put registration announcements in the local newspaper. To help, our web site has a League Finder Tool as well as links to regional offices that can offer assistance.

Let it all sink in

One key in helping children through a move is understanding the experience from their perspective.

When you first break the news about an upcoming move, for instance, don't feel compelled to cover everything right away. According to family psychologist Dr. Thomas T. Olkowski, "The best way to deal with the initial news is to give it some time to sink in."

A child, he says, will talk and ask questions when it feels right. Parents simply need to be ready with appropriate answers.

Let them participate, Dr. Olkowski says. Children should be involved with packing and unpacking their own belongings. Knowing where their possessions are gives them some power over a situation that otherwise seems out of their control.

It might be good to leave a memorial behind. Children can plant a tree or hide a special toy where no one will ever find it. Dr. Olkowski says this creates a lasting connection and lets the children feel that "they're a part of this house and it's a part of them, even though they're moving to a new neighborhood."

It's often good to exchange gifts with best friends, which helps children realize they won't be forgotten. And of course, it's important to exchange e-mails and phone numbers so that everyone can keep in touch. A reassuring phone call or e-mail can make it seem like nothing has changed at all.

When arriving in a new neighborhood, Dr. Olkowski says, it's essential that families walk the streets together so that everyone becomes comfortable with the new surroundings. And before a child has to face a new school alone, it's a good idea for the family to make an ice-breaking visit together – simply knowing the new teacher can reduce a great deal of anxiety.

Perhaps the most difficult moving experience for children is making new friends. This can be very awkward, and parents should teach their children how to introduce themselves to others. With just a few simple tips, a child can have several new friends in no time.

They'll be fine

Dr. Olkowski finds that most children adjust well in time and actually feel they're better off after a move.

"They discover that moving can be fun," he says. "And in the end, they realize they have even more friends after it's all done."

RE/MAX (www.remax.com), the country's leading real estate franchise organization and the official real estate partner of Little League, teamed up with Dr. Olkowski to produce a DVD specifically directed at children (and parents) facing a move. "Kids' Survival Guide to Moving" is a fun, entertaining program that has been recognized with the prestigious Parents' Choice Award. You can view video tips from the project at www.remax.com/moving.