The effects of moving on a teenager and 9 tips how to support them and their mental health.
We know that raising teenagers can be an adventure in itself, and when it comes to moving to a new town and moving schools, it can add a whole new level of complexity of managing adolescent years since everyday life will look very different. That's why we're here to offer guidance on how to support your teenager during a move, changing schools, and helping them navigate this significant life transition with resilience and ease.
Why is moving so hard? Understanding the emotional impact of moving on teens
Moving can stir up a whirlwind of emotions for teenagers (and even adults!) especially since your teen will probably be attending a new school and their daily life will look different. It's common for teens to experience a mix of emotions, ranging from excitement about new opportunities to anxiety and panic about leaving behind familiar surroundings and friends.
Your teen may feel a sense of sadness or frustration as they navigate the uncertainties of a new environment. It's important to remember that most people (at any age!) struggle with uncertainty so it is expected that your teen experience some stress and concern over this major life change. This emotional rollercoaster might also lead to changes in their social life, as they might initially struggle to establish new connections and maintain old ones. Additionally, the upheaval of moving can affect their sense of self-identity, making them question where they belong and how they fit in. There also may be feelings of grief since they will be living behind old friendships possibly from childhood.
Consequently, these emotional challenges can impact their overall mental well-being and might manifest as mood swings, irritability, or even withdrawal from family and friends. it's essential to be empathetic and patient, creating a safe space for them to express their feelings without judgment.
By acknowledging the emotional impact of moving on teens and supporting them through open communication, we can help them navigate this transition with greater resilience and adaptability.
9 tips to help your teenager when moving
1. Get them involved in the preparation for the move
Involving your teenager and children in the decision-making process, to the extent possible, can empower them and give them a sense of control. Family involvement with both teens and younger children to research the new city together, new house, exploring new schools, extracurricular activities, and community activities allows them the opportunity to give some input about the upcoming moving. It can also be helpful to involve your teen in making plans for visits with friends and family or trips back to their old neighborhood can also ease the transition.
2. Practice open communication with your teenager
Clear and open communication is crucial when you're moving to a new location. It can be helpful to create a safe space for your teenager to express their feelings and concerns without judgment. By allowing your child to express their feelings, you can help them better cope with this change in daily life.
Teens can at times be hesitant to share their thoughts and feelings, but you can still let them know that you're there to listen and support them. Often this will not be a one-and-done conversation, but you can continue to initiate conversations about the move, addressing any fears or anxieties they may have. Allowing them to ask questions, providing them with honest answers, and keeping the lines of communication open, you'll build trust with your child and foster a stronger parent-teen relationship.
3. Let them be part of the process in the transition
Moving is a team effort, so it can be helpful to involve your teenager in the process to promote smoother transition. Let them have a say in how their new room is decorated or packed. This can help them establish a sense of ownership and familiarity in their new space. Encourage them to explore the neighborhood, parks, and nearby amenities. If possible, introduce them to potential new friends or neighbors before the move. By doing so, you're helping them lay the foundation for a smoother transition. Encourage your teen to foster connection with old friends by possibly scheduling a going-away party and maintaining communication through phone calls, video chats, and social media.
4. Validate and normalize their feelings about moving
For adolescents and adults moving is stressful experience. As a result it is important to validate and normalize their feelings and understand how this is impacting your child's life. Every person deals with major life transitions differently and thus it can helpful to not make blanket statements about how your teen might react or feel about the move.
Statements such as "You're going to LOVE your new school" or "Stop worrying about changing schools, you'll be fine and make a ton of friends your first day of school" usually come from a place of love and good intentions. However, such statements at times can be invalidating and not acknowledge what your teen could be experiencing.
It may be more helpful to recognize and affirm your child's feelings with statements such as "I can see that you're worried about the move, but I truly admire your (fill the blank with one of your child's strengths) and I know you'll be able to handle the changes" or "I get it, moving is hard. I'm a little nervous too, but I'm here to support you in this new adventure."
5. Build new connections:
It can be beneficial for all family members to start to create connections in your new community. By helping your teenager build a support network in their new environment you can facilitate a smooth transition as they get use to their new reality. Encourage your teen to join school clubs, sports teams, or community organizations that align with their interests and meet new peers. These activities provide an opportunity for them to meet like-minded peers and form new friendships. Social media can also connect you with other families who may have recently moved to their new community in order to create connections.
6. Supporting your teen's mental health
Moving can be emotionally challenging, so it's essential to support your teenager's mental well-being during this time. Encourage them to engage in physical activities they enjoy, as exercise is known to boost mood and reduce stress. Teach them grounding and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or positive affirmations to help manage anxiety, stress and depression. Remember, taking care of their emotional well-being is just as important as taking care of their physical well-being.
7. Be aware of any warning signs regarding mental health concerns in teenagers
Moving to a whole new school or environment can at times be a trigger for depression or anxiety in teenagers. It takes everyone, children, adults included, time to adjust so it important to have realistic expectations that moving to a new school or community may take your teen some time to adjust.
Again, it is normal to experience feelings of sadness or grief, however if you notice these signs persisting for an extended period or intensifying, it may be an indication that your teenager needs additional support. As a parent, it's important to be aware of the warning signs that your teenager may be struggling emotionally.
Some warning signs of depression or anxiety in teens to keep an eye out are:
-persistent feelings of depression and sadness or hopelessness
-loss of interest in life | activities they used to enjoy
-changes in appetite or weight loss or gain
- low self esteem
-change in school performance
difficulty concentrating, irritability, or
withdrawal from social interactions or changes in their
Be attentive to physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or frequent fatigue that may have no clear medical cause.
Don't hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist, counselor, or additional resources who specializes in working with teenagers. Early intervention and open communication can make a significant difference in helping your teenager navigate and overcome any emotional challenges they may be facing.
8. Get support from a mental health professional for teens
Therapy can be immensely beneficial for teenagers who are going through a significant life transition, such as moving to a new school or place. This period of change can cause new emotions and challenges that may be difficult for teens to process and cope with on their own. A skilled and compassionate therapist can provide a safe and non-judgmental space for teens to express their feelings, fears, and anxieties.
Through therapy, teens can gain valuable tools and coping skills to navigate the complexities of their new environment. Therapists can help them build resilience, self-awareness, and self-confidence, which are crucial in adapting to the changes and forming new connections. Additionally, therapy can assist teens in exploring their identities and understanding their emotions better, ultimately fostering a positive sense of self amidst the transition.
Whether it's adjusting to cultural differences, making new friends, or dealing with feelings of loneliness, therapy can empower teens to thrive in their new surroundings and embrace the opportunities that come with the move.
9. For the Parent - do you own work too
As we've said before moving is hard on everyone in the family. Research suggests that moving is one of the most stressful life transitions that individuals experience. As a result, it's important as parents that we also do our own work to process our own experience related to the move and coping with a major life transition. It is normal for parents to also experience sadness, grief, anxiety and at times feel guilty about moving their families to a new community. Practicing self care and understanding how the moving is impacting our emotional well-being can allow us to show up for our kids and teens in a way that aligns with our parenting values.
Moving is hard but you've got this
Moving with teenagers can be a rollercoaster ride, but with compassion (and self compassion for you!), patience, and emotional support, you can help your teenager navigate the transition successfully. Remember, acknowledging their emotions, involving them in the process, and fostering open communication are key. Nurture their resilience by emphasizing the opportunities that come with a move, and encourage them to embrace the new experiences that await them. With your unwavering support, your teenager will not only survive but thrive in their new environment. You've got this, Parents!
Working with a professional can help your teen gain self awareness while also providing evidence-based strategies to help you navigate challenges and difficult feelings that teenagers may experience. If you are interested exploring Therapy for Teens in San Juan, Puerto Rico to help your teen navigate this new chapter, reach out to our team to learn more about our services. Learn more about Therapy in Puerto Rico and book a free consultation with Living Openhearted Therapy if you're interested in getting support for your teen.
***The ideas, concepts, and opinions expressed in all Living Openhearted Therapy and Wellness posts are intended to be used for educational purposes only. The author and publisher are not rendering medical advice of any kind, nor are intended to replace medical advice, nor to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, condition, illness, or injury. Authors and publisher claim no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material.