A summer move can be a great thing for your kids in the long term. Although it’s never easy getting farther away from friends and family – whether you move to the next school district or across several states – starting the next school year on relatively even footing with new classmates is positive.
However, if you move toward the beginning of summer, your kids may have to spend a few months getting settled before going back to school. Use this advice to help your children start meeting new people and allay your own fears about whether they’ll do as well in their new environment as their old one.
Opportunities for your kids to meet new friends
You’ve had plenty on your plate to deal with in terms of your move, so you may not have considered what your kids will do in their free time now that the process is over. That’s OK – there’s still time to find some activities and other opportunities for them to cross paths with other kids.
Ideas to consider include:
- Summer camps: Although some require registration long in advance of the beginning of the session, it won’t hurt to reach out and see if last-minute cancellations or other circumstances means there’s an open spot.
- Parks and recreation classes, sports and activities: Check with your local parks and recreation department to see if they have shorter-term offerings with open spots that either meet your children’s existing interests or sound exciting enough for them to try something new.
- Volunteering: Programs managed by local nonprofits, organizations and municipal governments can be a good way to meet people while contributing to the community, at least for older kids.
- Visiting local parks: A more informal approach of simply visiting a park or playground can be especially useful with younger children. Park visitors of a similar age will also generally have mom, dad or a caretaker watching over them. That means you can meet and make arrangements for future play dates if your kids hit it off.
- Meeting neighbors: Hosting a housewarming party and inviting those on your block or simply ringing doorbells to introduce yourself to your nearest neighbors offer plenty of opportunities for everyone in your family to make new connections.
Positioning your kids for success when meeting new friends
Once your kids are old enough, you don’t have to do too much to facilitate the development of new relationships. Although you’ll want to give your teens opportunities to meet people and learn more about new friends, you probably won’t need to do a lot of hand-holding. With younger children, it’s not always as simple.
Use this guidance to keep your efforts open, positive, low-stress and as successful as possible:
- Be gentle but focused with shy kids: Today’s Parent said the best way to help shy kids – whether it’s a personality trait or a temporary trait brought on by the move – is to gently coach them. Consistently make eye contact, speak clearly, smile and use a person’s name, and have them practice the same behaviors.
- Help them converse: PBS Parents suggested helping your kids understand how to build and continue conversations, as well as praising good conversational behaviors they exhibit. This builds confidence and helps them use the same approach when meeting new people.
- Don’t worry too early: While you shouldn’t ignore a long, ongoing concern about a lack of friends, remember it takes time for your child to build bonds. Your anxiety can rub off on your child if you express it too openly, so focus your energies on helping them develop and grow.
Moving with kids is a unique experience, but this advice can help them feel more grounded soon after they arrive in your new home.
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