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‘How will my daughter be affected when we move house?’

Ask the Expert: It is right to weigh up all aspects of your decision carefully and to think through how to manage it well for your daughter

I am contemplating moving to a new area in the town I am from. This would mean moving my daughter to a different school and away from her friends. We are a close-knit community and she has a lovely group of friends she gets on great with, and I am worried at the impact of moving her to a new school.

I am worried over whether this will cause issues in later life as both my husband and myself moved school at a young age and we both found this had a huge impact on us in terms of making friends and our self-confidence. Am I worried for nothing – or are there steps I can take to make the transition easier?

Moving house is a major life change and many studies indicate it can be significant source of stress both for adults and children. This means you are right to weigh up your decision carefully and to think through how to manage it well for your daughter. It is useful that you and your husband have both had personal experiences of moving house as young children, as this will make you more sensitive to what might be going on for your daughter. Other parents might not be in tune with the impact of moving home and assume a young child will have “no issues” or will “settle easily”, which might mean they might not be sensitive to the real impact.

How children are affected

Children cope differently with house moves. Some have a more adaptable personality and make new friends easily, whereas others might find this a bit harder. Age is a significant factor. Young children like your daughter can usually cope better than older children. When children are young, parents can more easily support them with making friends (eg arranging new activities to join and reaching out to new families to arrange play dates etc), whereas for teens and pre-teens you can’t be as proactive.


Timing can be important too. For example, a move in the middle of a school term can be more challenging than during the summer, when your child would be starting at the new school in September.

Also, in your question you describe how the move is to a “new area in the town”. Does this mean there is some scope for your daughter to maintain contact with her original friends, even in the short term – or is the distance too great?

Take time to decide

From your question it seems you have a choice about moving, but have not yet fully decided on doing so. I suggest you take time to weigh up the pros and cons and what your options are. Presumably there must be potential advantages to the move for you and your family (eg bigger house/garden, nearer to work, own bedroom etc). Sit down with your husband and make a list of the advantages, disadvantages and potential challenges. Think about how you, your husband and your daughter will be impacted.

Maybe one of you wants it more, or maybe you both have different reservations. It is worth talking these points through. Also, it might be helpful to reflect with your husband about your own childhood experiences. What specifically made your childhood house moves difficult? What supports would have made them easier? This process might give you an insight into how your daughter might cope, and what you can do to help her.

Preparing your daughter to move

If you do decide to move, there is a lot you can do to help your daughter manage the transition smoothly. First of all, it can be helpful to announce the move positively to her after you have thought through the issues. Initially, focus on the positives and benefits to her, and then give her space to say how she feels to let you know if she has any questions. Remember, this is not a single conversation, but one that will be ongoing over a period.

If worries and concerns come up, make sure to give time and space to listen to your daughter, rather than moving on quickly. For example, if she says she will miss friends or school, don’t immediately jump in with: “It will be fine and you will settle quickly.” Instead, take time to listen and acknowledge her feelings and to encourage her to say more.

You could contact the new school for advice about what activities the children in her class are involved in

Secondly, involve your daughter in the move by, for example, letting her choose the decoration or furniture for her new bedroom, allowing her to decide what to take from the old house and what to leave behind. You might also visit the new school in advance or drive by it and see the area. Thirdly, it is helpful to plan out different ways to make the transition work for her.

You might research different activities in the new area where she can make new friends. You could contact the new school for advice about what activities the children in her class are involved in. When she does start at the new school, you can be proactive with the teacher (and your daughter about identifying potential new friends in her class and then taking steps to reach out to their parents re playdates or other opportunities to meet up.

Fourthly, think about how extended family can help with the move. While she might be moving on from a group of friends, presumably she will still be able to see cousins and grandparents (perhaps more frequently in the new area, if it is nearer to them). Further cultivating these relationships might help her a lot during the move. Finally, do keep connected to her as the move progresses.

Make sure you and your husband spend quality one-to-one time with your daughter, and when you can, listen and check in on how she is doing so you can pick good ways to help if need be.