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Helping Kids Cope With a PCS Move

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Depending on how your child reacts to change, making a PCS move may be something they look forward to, something they dread, or a combination of the two. There is no one-size-fits-all in terms of how kids handle this major change.

Some children may view an upcoming move as one big adventure. For others, the mere fact of relocating may insight fear, worry and anxiety; whereas other children may feel a combination of eagerness, fear of the unknown and a host of other emotions that accompany making a major life change.

To help your kids cope with a PCS move you may want to take the following into consideration:

1. Learn about your new duty station. As soon as possible, research your new duty station and surrounding community. Gather photos and random information--material that you think might interest your child. Once completed, share the pictures and your newfound knowledge with your kids. By doing so, you'll remove a bit of the fear that often accompanies the "unknown." Furthermore, don't be surprised if you receive a lot of questions from your kids as they see and hear about the new location. You may get bombarded with inquiries from the start or get barraged days later after your children have had time to process the information.

2. Demystify the move. Keeping your kids updated on how the upcoming move will unfold can go a long way in quelling any uneasy feelings they may have. Of course, much of your explanations will depend on the age of your children and their ability to comprehend the relocation.

For instance, if you'll be staying in hotel or other temporary lodging because your new home won't be available for a week (or two or three), you may want to consider sharing this information with your kids beforehand. This way, your kids won't be taken off-guard once you reach your destination.

The same philosophy applies to other details regarding the move. There's a good chance that your kids will become less anxious about this major change simply because you've removed much of the mystery. Children thrive on security. Knowing what to expect and what comes next can go a long way in soothing their fears and anxiety.

3. Routines. Some kids function better if their routine stays the same. Any sort of deviation may result in emotional or behavioral changes simply because they're unsure about what comes next. If routines play an important role in your child's life, it's a good idea to establish how you'll handle the traveling portion of your move. Although maintaining an exact version of your child's schedule may not be feasible while traveling, you may want to try and create a routine that's as close as possible.

For example, some parents don't alter the child's bedtime--it remains the same, regardless of whether they're at home or staying in a hotel. You know your child better than anyone. Use this knowledge to help you determine the importance of routines throughout your journey to your new home.

4. Familiar surroundings. In an attempt to give their children a sense of familiarity, many parents opt to decorate their new home in a similar fashion as the house they've just vacated. Particularly, they'll pay special attention to their child's bedroom. They'll paint the walls the same color and place the bedroom furniture in a similar pattern as the houses they've previously lived in. This tactic can go a long way in providing a child with a sense of comfort and security. In essence, even though the child's address has changed, their bedroom always looks the same or resembles a close replicate.

5. Listen to your kids. Although the above mentioned ideas are just that—suggestions designed to help make the moving process a little bit easier on your kids, perhaps the best course of action that you can take is to simply give them your undivided attention. Listen to their concerns and answer their questions to the best of your ability.

For many kids, just knowing that their parent has a sincere interest in hearing what they have to say can make a big difference in how they cope with stressful situations. After all, everyone likes to be heard, and kids are no exception.

Additional Tips
If you would like more tips and information on this subject, BaseOps.net offers 25 suggestions in PCS Advice for Families with Kids.

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