Settling In and Reaching Out

Establishing a sense of belonging in your new or “for-now” community will take time.

Establishing a sense of belonging in your new or “for-now” community will take time. Small, consistent steps can help. Consider these ideas:

Settling In

Before going out into your new community, do what you can to make your new home (even if it’s a temporary home) feel comfortable, and invite children to help you.

  • Together, you might choose where to put special items or family pictures (or you can draw pictures or write special words of encouragement and display those).
  • Maintain family routines or try creating new traditions to celebrate being in a different place together. For example, at dinner, each of you might describe the good moments from your day, or on Sunday afternoons, gather for time.
  • Remind your children that your family is a team and you each have a special role to play. Talk about how you can help each other each day.

Be patient if children are sad or behaving differently than usual, such as clinging to you or being resistant at bedtime. It may take some time, but with your love and support, you can help them learn how to adjust and thrive in their new environment.

Reaching Out

When you’re feeling a bit more settled, you can learn more about your new community and envision your place in it.

You might:

  • Go for a walk and discover the closest parks and playgrounds and talk about places that look interesting to your children and that they’d like to go back to and explore, such as a children’s zoo or outdoor sculpture garden.
  • Ask to visit your child’s new school.
  • Visit a community center, library, museum, or faith community and ask about classes or events you might like to attend.
  • Help your child get ready to make new friends by practicing with dolls or puppets. Act out a scenario using simple words they might use when they meet a new friend. You can say, “Hi, my name is ___. What’s yours?” Encourage your child to speak with confidence and to have patience for others. Explain that others may ask them to repeat their name, or that others may need reminders on how to pronounce it just right—and that this is a good way for them to show that they can be a good and patient teacher.

It’s normal to feel nervous, and it’s natural to make mistakes! The most important thing is to keep trying. Remember that you can lead by example. When you reach out (to ask for help, or just to say hello), you model persistence, optimism and perseverance. It may take time, but you’ll find there are people in your new community who are eager to meet, support, and befriend you.