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We're moving... need some help with transitioning a 4yr old (and a HUGE move with him in the car)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Wow, It's been so long since I've been up here, just starting a thread already makes me feel better :) ... but I'm looking for some advice helping my 4yr old transition with a move.

 

We are moving across the country - Oregon to NC - in a month.

When I asked for advice initially, people said.. "Don't tell him", just avoid. So I'd say things like, "oh we're just moving things in to the garage" or "we're just cleaning". But he was crying a lot. He was so terribly confused.

So when he finally asked if we were moving to a new house, I told him.

Of course since then other people - preschool included - have said he's a smart kiddo, he needs honesty. And that it was the right approach.

 

Whether I blew it, or it was the right thing... it's out there now. He knows.  And it's not happening for another month.
Every day.. "we going to our new house?". no. And then he's sad. As if I've disappointed him. Because TIME is stupid and of course he doesn't understand.

He's telling Everyone, every grocery store clerk, Every Single person about his new house. He can't go but a few hours before "my new house" or ... "will I have this at my new house" comes up. It is on his mind 100%.

 

And everything has changed. 

He turned four this past weekend, and all the mom's at his party asked if he'd changed yet... apparently some drastic change that happens at 4 and independence. I met that kiddo 2 days later, the "I can do it without you, Go Away Mommy!"

So, great, if that's normal, I'll deal with it.

 

He's regressed on the potty 100%. Preschool said because he's moving in a month, put him in pull-ups, and they put him back in the "transitional" class for 2-3yr olds who are potty learning because, well, he's messy and not telling anyone about being messy... and he needed to be in a classroom to accommodate that.

 

He's started "needing me" to go to sleep. He's Never needed me to coddle him to sleep - turn on music, turn on the nite-light, shut the door, boom. But now, he "needs me" every 20 minutes.

 

And he's Hitting. He was a hitter when he was 2 - only me, not other kiddos. And the hitting is back On Me. He never tantrums and I actually do mean Never... he was an awesome 3yr old in that way. But today He Lost It at school when leaving and he hit me, pulled his teachers hair, and screamed in her face. It scared her.

This is new. And it's scary. And he's a Big kiddo.

 

----

We still have 30 days before we move. 

 

I'm not expecting the potty to get back, or even for the bedtime issues to resolve. But it is the underlying issue is that he feels his world is changing and is obviously freaking out.

 

I work from home, he's only in preschool in the mornings. And I've been trying to do something fun - like a park - in the afternoons before I come home and have to pack.

We're always good about doing something together, such as a game, after dinner. And that hasn't changed. He still gets So Much ME time -- I'm a single mom, he's an only child. It's Just Us.

Yes, I am packing with him around. I just can't wait until after he's asleep because I'm doing more in the afternoons with him, meaning I have to work more at night when he's asleep.

 

I've stopped all conversations until after he's asleep.

And I'm trying to keep the emotions away from him; happy in the garage working, but not crazy-fake happy. Just normal. Any emotions I'm feeling about moving, they happen later. Even today with him becoming Mr. Violent, he'd calmed down in the car and was happy to come home and go in to his bed for quiet-time... and then I cried it out in the bathroom across the house for a while.

 

Kicker is... we're DRIVING across country. After 30 days of confusion, he'll be stuck in a car with me and another adult (whom he loves and I picked her because she will be an amazing trip-buddy for both of us) for SIX days.

 

So not only do we need to survive the next month, he has an upcoming massive change of being in the car for so long. That's an asking for help in it's own right. What Do You do with a kiddo trapped in a car? sigh. I might have to start another thread at that time about long-distance trips.

 

oh kiddo, you'll survive this. We both will. But... I could use any BTDT advice. Because this is going to be a long month if the past week is any indicator.

 

TIA

post #2 of 8

It is a lot for a little guy to deal with.  As for the upcoming move, I suggest getting or making a calendar for the month ahead. Put major dates on it: last day of preschool, first day in the car, We Made IT! date. then X each day off at the end of the day. another idea:  My mother talks about how many sleeps it will be before something big happens with the kids, as in "In three sleeps you'll get to stay the night at my house"  That language seems to help when they are young. 

 

Behavior at school: I'd talk about it, but not overkill. If you want to finish your time with your classmates, you'll have to stay dry and clean at school. I can help you with that by taking you to the toilet to help you remember.   As for the screaming and hair pulling, I'd tell in a firm, calm way that he can't hurt people. That's not who you are. He might need more physical activity, a chance to draw or tell about how he's feeling, or more time with you.  

As another thought: I'm reading a book right now called Duct Tape Parenting. While I'm not finished yet, it talks about how what behavior you pay attention to, you will get more of, and how children create identities based on how we react to them. "In my family, I'm the one who ________________________." what goes in the blank is what they get the most attention for, positive or negative. While I can't give a better summary than that (I'm not done yet!) it is interesting enough that I suggest you might like to read it. 

 

As for the car trip, plan on making stops for exercise fairly often. After quite a few trips with three kids in the car across country (once when the boys were 4 and sister was 18 months, again when they were 6 and almost 4, and again this last summer,) I'll say that some things work better (for us) than others. We don't travel with a tv or game system. I do get books on tape, although on a one way trip like yours I'm not sure if it'd be worth it to purchase. Good music that kid likes is helpful. Lap toys-- trucks, dinosaurs, what ever he is into is helpful. Puppets. Chenille sticks (pipe cleaners) are strangely nice for long trips.  We play "hide and seek in the car", in which you pretend to hide in the vehicle somewhere, and give a clue. "I'm hiding some place wet" (in the water bottle). Also 20 questions. My youngest, at 5, came up with one of the best for 20 questions.  His favorite books. a pair of kiddie binoculars. 

 

Good luck with your move. I hope it goes smoothly. 

post #3 of 8

It's a lot of changes for all of you to handle. 

 

We moved a couple of times when my dc were around that age. I found a few things that helped:  

 

Get them involved in packing and planning for the move. Unless cargo capacity and finances are an issue, let him help pack his stuff and choose what to bring. If he wants to bring every last toy, book and piece of clothing and he needs that security, then fine, let him. You can purge later, when he is settled in at the new house. 

 

Let him plan his new bedroom or play room or outdoor play area or some aspect of the new home. If he likes a particular theme (eg. jungle or dinosaurs), let him pick out something now for his new room and start planning the decorating. 

 

Get him practicing now with Skype or Facetime or whatever. Ask a few family friends to set it up so he can still "see" them. Explain that you will be able to stay in contact even after you move. 

 

For the roadtrip, plan some fun stops that will help keep him interested. Maybe plan on "collecting" weird roadside attractions or examples of natural phenomenon. Give him a scapbook so he can put his collections (photos, brochures, leaves and flowers) in it as you travel. 

 

Good luck. I know how overwhelming it can be.  

post #4 of 8
Find age appropriate books about moving & start reading them now. We've done 2 moves in the last 9 months with out now 2-year-old and have "Katie Moves" which I found very helpful. Katie's family is moving, they put everything on boxes, movers take everything in a big truck, Katie's favorite toy goes in the car with her & they drive to her new house where she has a pretty room & makes friends with the boy next door. When the movers came to load the truck, we talk about how the same thing happened to Katie or other things that where 'just like Katie'. Find something age appropriate or relavant to your situation with character who goes to a new school or makes new friends.

I really think its helpful to explain what to expect & the logistics of the move. Explain that you start packing now to make sure everything gets to the new home safely. Explain that when your done packing you'll drive to the house & it will take a few days & the fun stuff you'll do in the car on the roadtrip (watch videos, sing songs, play with your travel mate, eat special snacks, stop at McDonalds, sleep in a bed with mom at the hotel). Tell him a bit about the new home - what will his bedroom look like? Answer any questions he has in a simple way. Keep talking about what to expect for the packing/roadtrip/move-in process and when your in the midst of it all you can say, "This is just like we talked about..."

We did a California to TX move over the holidays with a one year old (plus 2 cats in compact car!)& she regresses in terms of the pacifier use & wanted it all of the time. This summer we moved a few blocks from an apartment to a house and have had major regression with potty-training. Its tough.

Good luck.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Pajama View Post
 

As another thought: I'm reading a book right now called Duct Tape Parenting. While I'm not finished yet, it talks about how what behavior you pay attention to, you will get more of, and how children create identities based on how we react to them. "In my family, I'm the one who ________________________." what goes in the blank is what they get the most attention for, positive or negative. While I can't give a better summary than that (I'm not done yet!) it is interesting enough that I suggest you might like to read it. 

 

 

Thanks for the ideas - calendar... PERFECT! Oh that will help him understand the time.  And the book.... just ordered off Amazon :)

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

...Get him practicing now with Skype or Facetime or whatever. Ask a few family friends to set it up so he can still "see" them. Explain that you will be able to stay in contact even after you move. 

 

For the roadtrip, plan some fun stops that will help keep him interested. Maybe plan on "collecting" weird roadside attractions or examples of natural phenomenon. Give him a scapbook so he can put his collections (photos, brochures, leaves and flowers) in it as you travel. 

 

 Yes and Yes!! :)  We had a Skype session with Grandma yesterday, so he's learning how easy it is. the kiddo is certainly best friends with the iPad.

Scrapbook is awesome! I'm building an enormous busy book in a 3-ring binder that might get him through a few days :) But i love the scrapbook idea as both something to do and be excited about, but also a reminder for later.

 

Thank you!!

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cali2tx View Post

Find age appropriate books about moving & start reading them now. We've done 2 moves in the last 9 months with out now 2-year-old and have "Katie Moves" which I found very helpful. Katie's family is moving, they put everything on boxes, movers take everything in a big truck, Katie's favorite toy goes in the car with her & they drive to her new house where she has a pretty room & makes friends with the boy next door. When the movers came to load the truck, we talk about how the same thing happened to Katie or other things that where 'just like Katie'. Find something age appropriate or relavant to your situation with character who goes to a new school or makes new friends.

 

oh Amazon is loving me today! Thanks for the recommendation!

post #8 of 8
I have moved 4 times in the past 3 years. The OPs tips are good. The only thing I would add is if you know you're planning to move, slowly phase out toys here and there so they don't all disappear at once, and definitely expect regressions on par with what you get with a new baby. Also if you can have a relative visit to help distract kiddo/s it helps a ton with getting things done...
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