What Are the Effects on Teenagers When They Move to a Different City?

Changing neighborhoods and school environments can be very traumatic for teenagers -- more so if the move is due to an already stressful situation. You might notice that the move affects your teenager in several ways. Fortunately, understanding that moving is likely to be quite stressful for him can help you to support him before and after relocating.

A moody teen sits against a wall in an urban setting. (Image: prudkov/iStock/Getty Images)

Difficulty Adjusting

Vulnerable teens can experience agitation, depression, trembling, palpitations and twitching in response to a major life change, such as a move, according to PubMed Health. Teens may also display conduct disturbances. If your teen is experiencing any of these symptoms, consider having her evaluated by a counselor or her health care practitioner, as she may be experiencing adjustment disorder as a result of the move. Reduce the chances of this occurring by teaching your teen coping skills to deal with the move and working with her to reduce stress in other areas of her life.

Feelings of Insecurity

Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to feelings of insecurity, as this age group is still working to establish their identity. When you move a teen to a new city, he is likely to experience periods of insecurity and anxiety as he works to make new friends in his new environment. He'll also have to cope with cultural changes, such as differences in popular clothing styles, or social mores being more liberal or conservative. Be sensitive to these challenges, and discuss them so that your teen sees you as a source of strong support.

Emotional Ups and Downs

Don't be surprised if your teen has buoyant feelings about the move one day and is sullen and depressed about the change the next day. It's normal for teens to experience occasional mood swings under any circumstances -- he is likely to have mixed feelings about the move, even if it will benefit the family financially. Give your teen time to do the "grief work" of saying goodbye to friends and breaking relationships, advises Lesia Oesterreich, extension family life specialist at Iowa State University. Allow your teen to express his feelings openly and without judgment during this time.

Helping Your Teen

Teens are much more likely to have a smooth adjustment period if the move has occurred for a positive reason, rather than something negative -- such as moving out because of divorce or because a parent has been incarcerated. Children who move with a parent who is in the military often do well during a move because the military eases the transition to a new city, explains University of South Carolina professor Fredric Medway. Give yourself time to do the same in order to ease your teen's anxiety about the move, and keep channels of communication open so that your teen feels comfortable sharing her feelings about the upcoming change.

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