Moves are hard, especially for children. To help make this time of transition easier, FOCUS encourages parents to help their kids create a move book.
A move book is just what it sounds like, a story about a move; more specifically it is a story about your move. These books are not just a simple story, they are also a way to communicate with your kids about the move, provide them foreknowledge of what is going to happen, offer them a sense of control, and add a little bit of fun to an often boring process.
Creating a move book is fun and easy, simply follow these steps:
1. Move books can be created using any medium. They can be written, typed, drawn, or collaged.
2. Start by adding in some basic facts about your child and your family. “My name is Lily and I have 4 people in my family. Right now we live in Colorado but very soon we will be moving to Georgia.”
3. Add in any details you have about the timing of the move. You can list out the information or draw a calendar right into the book.
4. Write or draw out the sequence of events that will happen during the move. This activity provides the same benefit as a routine; in that your child will know what comes next. This is especially important when it’s not possible to keep your normal routine. “First, we will pack up all our stuff. Next, movers will come and load it all up into a big van. Then we will get in our car and start driving to our new home. We get to stop in Nebraska and see Grandma along the way…”
5. Once you have spelled out the sequence of events, it is time to add information about the place you are moving to. There are no limits to what kind of information you can add. You can add specific information about what your house will look like, or what school your child will be attending. If you don’t know those details yet you can just put in information about the weather, the scenery, and anything in your new location that your child might look forward to.
6. Somewhere in the book it is also helpful to talk about feelings. First, you can describe how you feel about the move, and talk about how other people might feel when they move. Then, if your child is comfortable doing so, you can add in their feelings about the move. It is important for your child to voice both positive and negative feelings about the move; this will help them understand that you can have several different feelings about the same event. It is also a chance for you to talk to them about healthy ways to deal with uncomfortable feelings, like taking a deep breath or hugging their favorite stuffed animal.
7. Once you have created your book, make sure to read it regularly with your child so that the information really sinks in. Reading the book regularly also provides a chance for your child to talk and ask questions about the move.
Remember that this book is a work in progress, your child can always add in new feelings they might be having about the move or new things that they are looking forward to. Even after the move, it can be helpful to add information about the parts of the move that may have gone differently than they expected or to make a list of their favorite things about their new home.
FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) is a resiliency-building program of the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED). FOCUS is an eight-session training program for military families that is grounded in more than two decades of research and experience serving families dealing with stress and changes. FOCUS is specifically adapted for the needs of military couples, children, and families and provides training in core resilience skills. These skills increase closeness, support, communication, and adaptability. Couples and families learn to work together to manage difficult emotions, set goals and problem solve, communicate clearly and effectively, and develop customized strategies to deal with ongoing stress and change.
For more information about FOCUS, visit us online at www.focusproject.org or www.facebook.com/FOCUSresiliencytraining
Contact your local FOCUS site today to learn more about FOCUS and to schedule your personalized training sessions.
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