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Helping Kids Cope When Their Friend Moves

Michelle Lara / July 7, 2015

Helping Kids Cope When Their Friend Moves Away

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We’ve had a busy few months at our home. We had Sienna’s dance recital in the Spring – which was amazing, but I could have lived without the long rehearsals.  That same weekend was Mother’s Day and it was great spending the day with the kids, Will and of course my mom too!

The following weekend we had Sienna’s graduation {can’t believe she’s heading to Kindergarten in the Fall!} and that same weekend was her birthday party {she’s 5 … seriously what is happening?!}.  

 

Helping Kids Cope When They're Friend Moves
Kaia and Sienna at Sienna’s 5th birthday party | Michelle Lara

Just two short weeks later we switched gears from a girly tea party for Sienna to a Surf’s Up themed party for Jaiden who celebrated his 10th birthday. We are in double digit zone already … I feel a panic attack coming because the teen years will be here before we know it!

School wrapped up we’re in full vacation dreaming/planning mode. 

As if we didn’t have enough jam packed fun/errands etc we also packed in a pretty emotional time for Sienna and Jaiden. Our neighbors and amazing friends have moved cross country.  

Let me rewind a bit … as many of you know when we relocated to Florida I had a real hard time connecting with people

Eight months into moving here we purchased our house and what we lack in square footage we more than gained with some amazing neighbors. When I think of neighbors I think of awkward hellos while heading to the mail box. It has been the complete opposite, we somehow managed to become real friends {more like family} with a few of our neighbors. 

We’ve known Kurt and Lisa for six years. Our children are close in age {they have a boy and girl too // Shepard  + Kaia}. Lisa and I were pregnant with our girls during the same time {they’re 4 months apart!}.

Our kids are the closest of friends – sharing toys, giggles, food and silly stories. There were beach days and the time we went out on their boat and Will nearly gave Lisa a heart attack when he decided it would be fun to jump out for a swim while the boat was still moving  {seriously people don’t attempt this … so sorry about that Li! lol}.

We shared countless potlucks and vent sessions between Lisa and I where we laughed loudly, cried and exchanged horror stories on why the kids HAVE to argue when we’re driving alone with them.  Our husbands get along well also sharing a passion for the ocean, sports and work in a similar field. 

About 4 – 5 months ago my heart sank a bit when Lisa told me they were seriously considering moving cross country. As an adult I’m able to process that while it sucks for us the move is really a great thing for their family – but what about the kids? 

We decided to wait until the move was finalized to break the news to Jaiden and Sienna.  As we planned for the recital, graduation and birthday parties the lump in my throat grew bigger – the day was arriving.

The busy days were good because it kept them focused on other things and rather then having one big sit down we made it as light and fun as we possibly could.  

I stayed positive with the kids and told them that now we have a fun new place to visit. Sienna is in the process of learning to read and write so she’s excited about having a pen pal {first I had to explain what a pen pal is … there is actual writing and postage stamps needed – a concept that boggled Jaiden, “why can’t we just text them?!”}. 

The days leading up to the move we tried to cram in as much time as we could with them. At the most random times Sienna would cry about the move – it really broke my heart. Jaiden was able to understand more than Sienna but was quieter than normal and was trying his hardest to be brave, but as his mom I knew this silence was the way he was masking his sadness. 

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During Sienna’s birthday party when Sienna thanked Kaia for her gift with a hug K started to cry  {which then made us moms cry too!}. Lisa’s kids were having an even more difficult time they weren’t only saying goodbye to their friends but also their family and the home they’ve always known. 

The day after Sienna’s birthday the moving truck was parked outside. She saw it and instantly started sobbing.  The girls took it harder but I think it’s more because of their age and the fact that it’s the first loss that they’ve ever had to face. When we moved here Jaiden has a real hard time saying goodbye to all of our family and friends in New York. 

This is a common issue for kids at this age and during the summer months most families tend to move away in order to  transition into the next school year.

In fact it’s the main theme in this summer’s blockbuster hit movie Inside Out – who’s main character Riley is uprooted from the Midwest to San Francisco. 

It’s been a sad time and a bit of a struggle but I really feel that this is a great opportunity to teach them some real life lessons.  

I speak often to Lisa and her kids are transitioning well. The excitement of a new place has been amazing for them. Just like my kids her’s have moments of sadness that will pop up out of the blue.

They’re really well rounded kids and extremely social I know this Fall when school starts they’ll have tons of new friends and memories to create. 

Things have gotten easier with time, as the days pass they get a little more used to the idea and it hurts less.

I’m proud of this journey that they’ve taken at such a young age. To recognize what true friendship is and deal with disappointment/sadness gracefully truly is a life lesson they’ll draw on for years to come!

Helping Kids Cope When Their Friend Moves Away

Here are a few tips to help you cope if you’re dealing with the same situation:

Stay positive: It’s an emotional time but remain calm and don’t let the kids see you being emotional over it.  Play up the positives, like how fun it will be to visit them in their new home. 

Keep them busy: Try to organize play dates and activities with other friends so the loss doesn’t feel so tremendous when the day comes {this isn’t to say new friends will replace old ones, but rather to show them that life will still be fun and they’ll be happy}. 

Make a project: A fun scrapbook and letters to write will keep them busy and focused on all the good memories they have with their friend. 

Plan ahead: With social media it’s the easiest it’s ever been to stay connected. Plan skype dates, text silly photos and videos. Mail letters and postcards. 

Stay honest: Honesty is really the best policy. It’s important to let them know that things won’t be the same – impromptu play dates won’t happen anymore. Be supportive but let them know that change is part of life and they will get through this time. 

Are you moving or did your kid’s best friend move away? Let me know in the comments section, I’d love to hear how your family is coping.

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