Relocating may affect your children

Whenever a family has to move to a new area, town or country, it can have a serious impact on the child or children

Relocating from one place to another may not be a big deal for parents or other adults, but it may have a tremendous psychological impact on children. Adults usually celebrate relocation because it usually involves an improved lifestyle or a job promotion.

Different motivators

Adults, having had their needs for belonging and love fulfilled through an adult stable companion, often look at relocating as a bit of excitement. Children, on the other hand, experience just the opposite.

For them, achievement is a secondary need. Children often do not understand why adults are so focused on achieving success.

A change in mood, focus

Relocating creates a situation in which a child's existing sense of meaning of life comes under question. It may take some time for them to adjust mentally, socially and psychologically. Reestablishing a sense of meaning is a condition precedent to properly functioning in school, at play and in her or his interpersonal relationships.

Establishing a stable sense of meaning involves adjusting to complex variables, and until that is done a child may become withdrawn, lonely, depressed or apathetic. The child often retreats into his or her "own world". From there, it is easy to be sceptical of new things and even question what used to be meaningful in life.

Consequently, some children may develop thought patterns that can adversely affect performance at school. Put this on a list of things to consider if your family has made a major move recently and you think you perceive that there is a difference in the mood or performance of your child.

Psychological solution

Parents and teachers may wish to consider the following guidelines.

Give the child a sense that "we are in this together!" Children who feel that they have been given a chance to participate in the discussions and decisions to relocate tend to cope much better with the challenges of relocating to a new environment, even if it is just to a slightly larger home in a nearby suburb.

Also, offer your child frequent opportunities to express an opinion about the move, even after the move has already been accomplished. Be sure to really listen to the opinion. Even a child can detect when a person is feigning interest, perhaps even better than most adults.

Next, use the information gathered from your conversations with the young ones to respond constructively to their psychological needs in a timely manner.

Finally, proactively assist your children in making friends in the new environment. Parents and teachers should carefully select and introduce potential friends to the migrating child. Do it individually. Take care, where appropriate, to match your child's personality patterns with that of other children in the school or neighbourhood. Announcing to a crowd of children, "Hi, everybody, this Pichai. He just moved here a couple of weeks ago" does little to create a one-on-one connection, which is what real friendship is.

The potential friends should have common values, attitudes and preferences if positive connections are to be made.

Ultimately, every relationship forged with a new friend should boost the relocating child's self-image and build confidence. This gives the child the courage and cognitive balance needed to form his or her new sense of meaning of life.

Lastly, adults should acknowledge and tell children that achievement is not more important than psychological and social adjustments. This is a concrete sign of empathy. Children appreciate it when parents and teachers understand what's important to them. Once proper psychological adjustments are made, the child is back on track to excel at home and school.

Dr Edward Roy Krishnan is the director of studies, Kent Institute of Business & Technology (Thailand), director of strategic planning & development, Wells International School. He also lectures in the Graduate School of Psychology, Assumption

University. He can be contacted at To access additional articles by him, visit

About the author

Writer: Edward Roy Krishnan, PHD
Position: Writer