Telling 4 year old we are moving apartments

We plan to move to a bigger apartment in about 3 weeks—a sorely needed change since we’ve been squeezing into a one-bedroom with a 4 year old and a 6 month old. I’m wondering when and how to tell our 4 year old about the move. Is it best to tell him as soon as possible, so as to give him more time to get used to the idea? Or better to delay, so that he spends fewer days anxiously anticipating a leap into the unknown? 


I also wonder whether it would be a good idea to start by just saying we’re looking for a new place...then a few days later announce that we found one. But maybe this would just give him time to go on the record as opposing any move (he tends to resist change rather fiercely, even smaller things like moving furniture around). Any insights appreciated!

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At that age, he'll take a lot of his cues from you and your attitude. If it were me, I'd present it as a done deal right away, and an exciting one - "We're going to be moving to a new place! It's going to be fantastic! Life is a dashing and bold adventure!" Maybe he'll have his own room at the new place, or be close to a park, or something else happy you can promote that he can get excited about? When my family moved when I was that age (and we moved roughly every year during my childhood, so I speak from experience), my mom let me choose a new bedspread for my bed in my new room, and it totally sold me on the change - sometimes it doesn't take much! Make space for him to voice concerns and ask questions - there are bound to be things he's unhappy about, but focusing on the positive can help a lot. You might also see if you can find a library book or Sesame Street episode or whatever his way of absorbing things is that deals with moving - my own kids liked to process things through stories and pretend play when they were that age. It can also help to have him help pack some of his own things in a box or suitcase before the move so he feels invested and part of things - the move where my parents sent me to a friend's house and I came back to find everything in boxes was the worst of all of them.

We've moved twice with our daughter. The first time when she was 3, then again when she was 4.5. Both times we talked openly about it, explained to her what's happening and why we're doing it and pointed out the highlights, e.g. having a backyard she can play in, a better room, neighborhood playground,.... I also read some kids' books with her about moving.

She had a few, minor moments where she didn't like the change. Whenever that happened, a good strategy (as with all disagreements or tantrums) is to acknowledge and re-direct. Then after some time we'd come back to point out the highlights.

Overall she managed very well and it was a non-issue, as she always discovered new and interesting things about the new house.

Kids are highly adaptable. Don't be too concerned about sharing the logical process behind it (first looking, then finding), that's likely over their head. Just tell him it's happening and what to look forward to.

Good luck!