Change is difficult. Especially if you’re a kid. Whether it’s relocating to a different school, moving across state lines, or just the natural changes that come with growing up—transitions can be hard. 

By the 8th grade, I had already attended 11 different schools, lived in four states, and I can’t tell you how many houses I called home. Change was the norm for me growing up, but now that I’m a parent, I’ve been processing through what it takes to help my children transition well. Change isn’t all bad. It can even be great for your family and for the health of your children if done with intentionality. 

Recently, my wife and I moved back to the midwest after living in New England for the last 7 years. Our three-year-old son experienced a lot of change. New daycare, new home, new church, new friends, and the list goes on.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do want to highlight 4 ways you can help your child transition well and adjust to change. 

1. Don’t Put Your Emotions on Them 

Whenever change happens, it happens to the whole family. If you move, you leave the people you grew to love and do life with. Likely your kids grew attached to the same people and it can be difficult when they are no longer present. Sometimes it’s not moving locations, but changing churches, schools, neighborhoods—really anything that results in people transitioning in and out of your family’s life. 

During times like these, we can subtly project our emotions onto our children by publicly putting our strong emotions on regular display. There is nothing wrong with showing emotions. In fact, it’s important to express emotion in healthy ways and for your children to see you model that, especially tough emotions like sadness. That said, ask yourself—do your children see you during times of change and sense that things will be okay? Or do they sense that things are unstable? Your kids need to know it will be okay by seeing that you are okay. You can be sad, but the ways that you deal with and regulate your own emotions will teach your kids to do the same.

2. Keep Routines and Traditions

Humans thrive when we can look forward to something. I think that’s why we have so many holidays. For children especially, tradition and routines provide a sense of stability and security.

Maybe before a move, you always went to that certain donut shop on Saturday mornings. Well, it’s time to find a new one. Your child’s room might be different, but you read the same book, sing the same songs, and pray to the same God. Junior year of high school is way different now with a license, car, and newfound freedom, but family dinner continues to maintain togetherness and security. 

Whatever your upcoming transition may be, do your best to continue with the familiar during that time. So if you are moving, it wouldn’t be the best time to take away the pacifier from your 3-year-old. It’s something small, but it’s familiar. Is your kid transitioning to college? What can they bring or do that will remind them of home? I don’t have the answers for you, but the goal is the same. Bring stability through the familiar. 

3. Be Present More than Productive

During times of change, there is usually a lot to get done. Boxes to unpack, new job responsibilities to figure out, paperwork to fill out . . . the list is endless. 

For most parents, when we get busy, the kids are the ones who get more time in front of the screen, more meals on the run, and honestly probably less of what they need most. Their parents. You probably know where I’m going with this. During times of change, we need to focus on being present more than productive. Your children need the stability your presence provides. What I’m coming to find is the more severe the relational loss your child encounters, the more present you need to become. Your presence communicates a needed truth: “I’m here with you and we are going to be okay.” 

Tangibly, you can do this by including them in the moving process. Rather than giving them a screen to watch, unpack boxes together. Explore the new neighborhood together. Paint the new living room together—even if it’s messy. Whatever needs to be accomplished, focus on being present more than productive. 

4. Build a New Community

Change will often bring relational loss, but it also will bring a lot of new opportunities. Especially relational ones. When we experience transition, one of the first things we should do is get connected. 

Start looking for a new church, join a local parents group, connect with the parents in your child’s class, invite that dad you met at your kid’s baseball game over for next Sunday’s football game. 

Your children need to know that when people leave their lives, God will always bring more people into their lives. People that will love them. Friends that can feel like family. New classmates that can feel like you’ve grown up together. Transition is an opportunity to discover more life-long friends. The family and friend pool just gets bigger. Parents are the catalyst for this. You are the ones responsible for leading the charge. Your kids will not only have the opportunity to connect through your intentionality, but will learn how to connect as you model it for them. 


Josh Pezold is the Outreach Minister at Traders Point Christian Church in Indiana and founder of Young Church Leaders. He is husband to Katie, dad to Emerson and Nailah, and a foster parent. Josh is passionate about investing in young leaders and enjoys grilling on his Big Green Egg whenever he has the chance.