Moving to a new city? For your teen, this is an apocalyptic decision — a living nightmare. Being the "new kid" at school can have seemingly grave effects, but as a parent, you can help with the following tips.
Keep in mind, if your teen continues to struggle to the point that their grades drop and health suffers, don't be afraid to seek professional help. You can start with the school guidance counselor for recommendations on how to pursue this route.
Show Compassion and Empathy
Moving is stressful, costly and time-consuming, especially if you're relocating out of state to new a city. It's easy to get caught up in the process and overlook the impact moving has (and will have) on your teenager. Take a moment to remember what life was like when you were a teenager. Recognize their silence, withdrawnness or attitude as fear and anxiety. Through your teen's perspective, you may see their apprehension and worries as worthy of your time and attention.
You can help your teen adjust to life in a new city, even before your move. Research your new city together, recommends iMove. Explore new concert venues, sports leagues, and hiking and biking trails, for example, to ignite excitement for this new adventure.
Give Space and Freedom
Sometimes teens need space to find their way. Rallying together as a family while getting accustomed to new surroundings is essential; however, stepping away to give your teen a sense of independence when appropriate is all part of the transition process. Expect fights, as well as positive moments. Eventually, any chaos will settle and your family will establish a new normal. With freedom, your teen has the emotional, mental and physical space to navigate a new social life, discover a new sense of identity, and create a new, comfortable environment on their own.
Blogging is an excellent self-expression tool and way to channel emotions during this journey. Whether through words or photos, blogs serve as a creative, therapeutic outlet. This can be your teen's forum that gives them a voice, especially when this may be a time when they feel they have no one else in which to turn.
Support Connections with Long-Distance Friends
Eventually your teen will create friendships, and this new city will start to feel like home. In the meantime, let your teen keep in touch with their old friends. This may mean they will spend significant time on their phone or laptop connecting through social media, FaceTime or texting.
If your child doesn't yet have their driver's license, start the process as soon as possible with permit practice tests. Taking this first step of learning how to drive is an open door to visiting their friends (if within driving distance), who will become a support system. Plus, ongoing contact and visits will provide your teen with love and support as they build a new life for themselves.
Open Up About Loneliness
Outside of their comfort zone, your teen is likely to experience loneliness. The difficulties of fitting in and making new friends (who actually "get" your son or daughter) can trigger natural feelings of loneliness that continue to mount. Loneliness — The. Worst. Thing. Ever. Teen Vogue emphasizes how beneath bouts of sadness and social isolation, being alone can be beneficial. Start a conversation with your teen about how although loneliness is painful, solitude has its benefits, like recharging from the school day.
Of course, relationships are essential for good health and good times. Explain this big life change is an opportunity in disguise for brand new experiences. Help your teen become proactive and take social risks, like inviting a classmate or teammate to hang out. Social media is also a comfortable and socially "safe" way to start a connection with an acquaintance that can gradually grow into a closer, more meaningful friendship.