As summer approaches, so does the inevitable parade of moving trucks. Families relocating for family, work, and a variety of other reasons. This is definitely true in our world, and it is hitting very close to home this summer, as my son’s best buddy is moving. Needless to say, my little man is sad about losing his friend and this is a tough time for him. How to deal with a friend moving away can actually be tough at any age.
My son and I have talked about the situation a lot. Thankfully with modern technology, he and his best mate can stay in touch… texting, video chat, Skype, etc. However, it still isn’t the same as daily excursions to the park with his friend. My son is realizing that life changes and, to paraphrase the old saying, the only constant is change.
As he and I have thought about the upcoming move, it has made me try to figure out things and ideas that would make it easier for him. Here are a a few tips that I have discovered (through a lot of time and research) that I hope will help you out in a similar situation when your child’s friends are moving away.
A Friend Moving Away? Tips To Help Your Child Feel Better
When a friend is moving away, there is a loss. This hole can be filled by a new friendship but it usually takes some effort and time to feel that close, safe, and comfortable with a new friend. Here is some advice on how to help your child deal with a friend moving away.
IT IS REAL
When a child is moving away, this is a big event in the world of a young child. You should be as compassionate as possible for as long as they need to grieve. Some child experts actually say that children who are dealing with the loss of a friend who is moving, can experience the same type of grief and anxiety that an older person may feel in the event of a death. Don’t belittle their feelings by telling them to get over it or move on.
Regardless of your child’s age, make sure that you make it clear you will help them stay in touch with their friend. For younger children, it may be helpful to show them on a map the distance of the move so that they can fully grasp the situation. Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, remind your child that they will be able to connect electronically as often as possible.
HELP YOUR CHILD STAY (AND GET) INTERESTED IN THEIR OTHER FRIENDS
This has been big in our house. When one friend moves, a child may be ultra focused on that one friend as they try to spend as much time with them as possible. This can make moving day even more difficult. Encourage your child to grow their social circle, and invite other kids over so they will realize that they will still have other friends even with kids moving away. Plus, reach out to some parents and school some “new friend” activities.
Remind your child that the move will likely be more difficult for their friend than it is for them. Try to give your child the role of being sympathetic toward their friend. Point out that it is the friend who will have to adjust to new surroundings, start a new school, make new friends, etc.
PLAN A VISIT
Talk with the friends’ parents about planning a visit a few weeks after the move. This of course depends on the distance of separation and the age of the children – not exactly a possibility in our case as my son’s buddy is moving to Asia! But when possible, kids realize that they will still get to see one another and visit a new place in the process! It gives them something else to focus on rather than their own feelings of grief and loss.
HELP YOUR CHILD CREATE A FRIENDSHIP KEEPSAKE (The best friend is moving away gift!)
This is something that the kids can do together, making a book or photo album for themselves and for their friend that is moving. Maybe even exchange special toys to remember each other by. This can become a treasured item and item during times when your child is upset, it can be a wonderful reminder for the friend that has moved.
LET THE EMOTIONS FLOW
Allow your child to feel the many different emotions, from anger to despair to grief to sorrow. This is normal. Although there is nothing that you can do to change the situation, you can be there to support your child. Whatever you do, avoid minimizing the situation, which will make your child think that you don’t care.
KNOW THE REASONS WHY
Make sure your child understands why their friend is moving. For instance, for many military families, moving is a natural and normal part of life. When your child realizes that the family is moving away because they have to, or because of a job they might be better equipped to handle the move as maturely as possible. This can help to diffuse some of the anger and resentment that they may feel about the move.
RELATE TO THE SITUATION
You as the parent have definitely experienced a close friend or family member moving away in your own life. Get some of your compassion from that experience and share your thoughts and feelings with your child. Tell them the ways that you have remained close and connected despite the distance. This also shows your children that you really do understand how they feel.
HELP YOUR CHILD FEEL CONNECTED AFTER THE MOVE
While your child may suffer through times of extreme sadness, grief, and loss you should do everything possible to keep them as socially active as possible. This can be a great time to sign them up for a sport or special interest program (golf camp is on our summer agenda). Staying busy is the key. The more time your child can spend doing things with other children, the less time they will have to feel sorry for themselves.
Quotes About Friends Moving Away
Here are a few quotes about friends moving away for inspiration.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” -Winnie-the-Pooh, Author A.A. Milne
“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” -Paulo Coelho
“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.” -Nicholas Nickleby, Author Charles Dickens
Your child might even want to make some artwork with one of the quotes about moving and saying goodbye that he or she likes best. Art is a great form of expression and it could be a great friend is moving away gift.
I hope you find these tips helpful for when your child’s friends are moving way. Do you have any tips to add to this?
Rob Youngblood is an Emmy Award Winning TV Host, Men’s Lifestyle Expert, Single Dad, Keynote Speaker, and A Guy Who Talks for a Living! You can follow him on Twitter.