At certain ages, children process change differently. It’s important for parents to provide a seamless transition out of the place they call home, so kids can continue being kids.
We read scientific studies and broke down the information based on the age group to provide parents with a general understanding of how kids of different ages will react to selling their beloved home.
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Infants and Babies (0-2)
Babies are typically the easiest to handle when selling a home (they’ll definitely be the least opinionated). Most newborns will react immediately to their needs in any environment, so removing them from a house will have little to no effect.
However, as an infant grows into babyhood (around 5-6 months), trouble can occur if a routine is broken, especially at bedtime.
A study by the Department of Psychology at Yale University notes that “infants habituate to repeated stimuli” and states that, “habituation is well tuned to our highly complex and dynamic visual environment”.
Basically, infants become comfortable with stimuli that they’re exposed too often, especially in a visual environment.
So, completely changing their visual environment (like putting them in a new room with all new furniture) could overstimulate their senses, causing them to stay awake at night or nap time.
While some stimuli are good for development, such as introducing new toys and sounds, a total change in resting environment could cause a baby that has been sleeping on a schedule to become restless during random hours. (You’ve probably experienced this if you’ve ever traveled with a baby.)
When selling your home, keep the furniture, linens, and decor from your baby’s room until you have completely settled into a new environment. Your baby will associate it with a known environment in your next home, creating a calm, safe haven for sleep.
Try to keep the same routine for naptime and bedtime, as well. With two-year-olds, avoid adding other advanced changes during a move, such as starting potty training or switching from a crib to a bed. Little ones love predictable routines, so messing with that could make unhappy campers.
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Toddlers and Preschoolers (2-4)
Aside from keeping the same routine as you would a baby, it’s important to communicate with toddlers and pre-schoolers about the process of selling a house. Children’s books are a useful tool when preparing for upcoming events that may be emotional. Some books to consider are A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle, Goodbye House by Frank Asch, and A Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn… but there are hundreds and most of them will do the trick. When possible, show don’t tell. Remain upbeat and calm, letting your little one see that packing up everything and leaving isn’t a bad or scary thing.
In a study by the University of Adelaide and Menzies School of Health Research, findings suggest that “young children exposed to frequent family upheaval may experience considerable stress, while not having the language skills to fully understand what is happening.”
So, in the selling process, avoid unnecessary stress by helping little ones understand that there are no threats to their well-being and by urging them to share their feelings with you.
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Young Children (5-7)
The older a child gets, the easier it is to explain what’s happening and why. It’s still important to answer any questions your child may have and to keep them in the loop about what’s going on through books and open communication.
But, at this age, your child will mostly mimic your attitude.
The European Proceedings of Social & Behavioral Sciences studied the perception of parental love in 4-6-year-old children and concluded that, during early years, children use emotional clues of parents as a social reference. In this stage, children notice changes they may have in their emotional reactions and will learn to control them based on the expressions they experience from adults.
Therefore, if parents act in a positive manner about selling, young children will more than likely respond in the same way.
Don’t talk about the stresses of the selling process in front of your kids. Keep the conversation focused on positive things like how exciting it’ll be to sell the house.
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Elementary School (8-12)
One of the biggest issues parents face when selling a home with elementary-aged kids is leaving beloved schools and friends. Dr. Jennifer Shroff Pendley, an expert in clinical psychology and behavioral health, shared opinions for making the transition easier for kids.
Some experts say moving in the summer will avoid disruption in the school year.
Others believe that moving in the middle of the school year will allow the child to make friends immediately.
Ultimately, when the move will take place depends on when you sell your home. So, when you decide to list, it’s best to sell as fast as you can to avoid throwing off your school plans.
Pendley suggests avoiding any stress by having necessary documentation for processing the school transfer handy so your child can jump in without any messy setbacks.
The older a child gets, the less they want to change schools. When working with families selling homes, Jones sees this a lot. “I’m selling a home now that has kids,” Jones says.
“They’re moving close enough that they got permission from the school district to let their kids go to the same school. The people buying their house have a daughter in high school which is now 30 minutes away, but they’re just going to keep making the drive until she’s out of school.”
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For angsty teenagers, it’s important for parents to stay calm and caring. Listen to what your teen is saying and let them know their feelings are valid. Have open, judgment-free communication so they know they are not being punished and that their needs are considered.
“Sometimes it’s best for the teenager to move with the family. Sometimes it’s best to find a way for the teen to finish out high school and join the family later,” Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker, a licensed psychologist and marriage and family counselor, advises in an article on PsychCentral.
A teenager may also benefit from inclusion in the selling and buying process. Ask them what they want in a new house, and invite them to attend open houses with you. By knowing that their thoughts matter, they can better adjust to the idea of change.
Lastly, consider the relationships your teen may have to leave behind, such as life-long friends. If distance allows it, give them the opportunity to come back and visit friends or return to attend a highly-anticipated school event. Remind them that they’ll make new friends and the move is a practical experience for college and future jobs.
This article was originally published by homelight.com on 24th May 2018 and written by Corinne Rivera