The Impact of Moving on a Teenager and 6 Tips to Make it Easier

Moving is a stressful process even at the best of times. In fact, mental health providers consider moving one of life’s major stressors. Leaving behind friends, familiar spaces, and activities that make up everyday life is particularly challenging for teenagers. You may even find yourself dealing with negative behaviors or teen defiance related to a family move.

Why Moving Negatively Impacts Teens

Teens often struggle with the underlying reasons for the move. Many times teens find themselves moving due to issues like divorce, a death or illness in the family, or family financial troubles. Younger children may be unaware of the reasons associated with a move, but teens are likely to understand the larger issues their family is facing. Teens are caught in that uncomfortable space between childhood and adulthood when they are aware of issues facing their family and yet unable to exert control over the situation.

Even if your family’s move is a positive one, your teen will likely struggle with their inability to change a situation they may not be happy about. Change is difficult for everyone, but teens often enter these last years of their dependence with a plan about how their high school years will play out. If your teen has made plans for their high school years, they likely center around long time friends and established school traditions. Making a move during their teens requires your child to accept that things aren’t going to be the way they have planned them.

Teens are already dealing with a long list of changes. Many of them will already be experiencing stress due to the uncertainties associated with approaching independence. If your child struggles with school or is uncertain of what life may be like after high school, a move is likely to add to an already increasing sense of anxiety. Too much stress can lead anyone to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.

Tips to Help Your Teen Deal with a Move

Give them time to adjust:

Teens will need as much time as you can give them to prepare for a move. Saying goodbye to friends may well feel and look like grieving. Remember your teen is having to readjust the plans they have made for their immediate future. Gone are the plans to attend prom with that special someone and dreams of senior year with a group of friends they may have had all of their lives.

Focus on the positives of the move:

If your teen has had struggles in school or with friends, talk up the significance of being able to begin anew. If your teen has had an exceptional school experience, spend your time focusing on any pluses that this move may bring. If you are moving closer to family, moving to a larger house, or are finally going to have a large yard, focus on these positives.

Listen to what your teen is feeling:

Even if there are positives associated with your family’s move, your teen is going to face a significant change. Help them with the transition by allowing them to share what they are feeling.

Engage your teen in the move:

Just as your teen is old enough to feel the full loss of a move, they are also old enough to be a great help in your move. Engaging your teen in searching for a home, and helping make decisions, will reward them for their age. If your teen is tech-savvy, have them research the neighborhoods you are considering. Engage them in locating interesting sites near the houses you are looking at.

Help your teen attach to things that they can control about the move:

Once you have settled on a house, allow them to pick out and decide on how to decorate their new room.

Plan a going-away party:

You and your teen are both aware that they will be giving up a lot by making this move. Help them to develop positive memories surrounding the move. Help them to have a positive way of wrapping up this part of their lives. Encourage them to make plans to stay in touch with the people that were important in their lives at this home and school

Regardless of how well you support your teen in a move, you should be aware that your teen may need some time to adjust after a move. Some teens will feel insecure, anxious, or depressed after a move. You may see twitching, trembling, signs of agitation, tendencies to isolate, and/or emotional outbursts. Your teen may seem abnormally sensitive, or they may appear apathetic. If you are concerned about your teen’s behavior after a move, consider getting a professional assessment of your troubled teen.

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