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4 Tips for When Your Child’s Best Friend Moves Away
Parenting is an adventure. Although you’re dealing with the same kids for a couple of decades, there’s always something new happening. Right now I’m trying to help my younger daughter through a situation we’ve never faced before: her best friend is moving away in less than a month.
It took my daughter a long time to develop a friendship this close. She loves this little girl like she loves my older daughter. They’re practically sisters. The leaving hurts, and it’s hard to say goodbye.
Here are some tips I’ve found that are helping:
- Listen. I am doing a lot of listening to my daughter as she talks about the situation. I try to hear past the words to the root behind them. She is hurting, afraid, and uncertain of what the future will look like without her friend. Will she ever find another friend she loves this much? How often will they see and talk to each other after the move? Right now they see one another twice a week during church activities and have playdates and sleepovers. She’s going to miss the regular contact. She is worried for her friend too. Will she like her new school? Will she find nice girls to be friends with there? What church will she go to now?
- Validate the feelings. While I want to dismiss some of the things she’s saying and the feelings behind them, I have to be careful not to do so. She is genuinely upset by this situation and all the fear and uncertainty it brings. I do my best to validate her feelings, to let her know that what she’s feeling is normal and that her friend probably has some of the same concerns and feelings. She can’t help the way she feels, and validating her feelings lets her know that it’s okay to feel. She doesn’t have to hide it or stuff it away inside somewhere. I want her to keep talking, to keep processing.
- Make plans. It’s important for my daughter to have some idea of what interactions she might expect to have with her friend after she moves. We talk about how her grandparents will still live here and go to our church, and her friend will be coming to visit them. Those would be good times to try to get together with her. We discuss having video chats using smartphones and Wi-Fi, and we talk about how she can call her friend and talk to her every week. We discuss the possibility that she can go to visit her friend. I also talk to my daughter about other people she knows that she feels a connection with and discuss how she can get to know them better and develop stronger friendships with them.
- Lather, rinse, repeat. My daughter’s special needs mean that we repeat these steps over and over again, moving back and forth from one to the other as needed, trying to help her process what’s happening and find a way to deal with the sadness and fear. I don’t know exactly how long it will take us to reach acceptance and find a comfortable routine that keeps her in touch with her friend but encourages her to develop other friendships, but it’s something I’m already working on. And I’ll keep doing it until we get there.
Better Beginnings has great tips to Help Your Child Say Goodbye in the Better Beginnings Resource Library. While many of those tips are meant for younger children, I still found a lot I could use in our current situation.
What suggestions do you have for helping a child deal with a friend’s move? Do you know of books or movies that might help?
If you’re in Arkansas and need child care, please consider a Better Beginnings provider. They have fun, hands-on educational activities for every child!
Other articles in the Learning Through Play series:
- Why My Child Almost Failed Kindergarten – And Yours Doesn’t Have To
- Back to Basics: Learning Size and Capacity
- Playground Safety for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
- 5 Apps My Kids Love (and I do too!)
- 7 Life Skills Kids Can Learn through Board Games