A project of the Child Trends News Service supported by the National Science Foundation

The Age of Belonging

HOUSTON, Texas. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Making new friends after a move is critical to your child’s happiness, but what if your kids have problems adjusting? New research shows that, when children move from urban areas into suburban neighborhoods, the process of making new friends varies among age groups. Fortunately, parents can help.

Seven: the number of times Michael Loewer moved as a child—starting over, making new friends.

Loewer told Ivanhoe, “I think, as a kid, you don’t notice that as much. Honestly. I think it’s more of an exciting thing.”

Loewer’s views parallel those of a recently published study illustrating how older kids can find it hard to fit in.

Anna Rhodes, PhD, an assistant professor at Rice University, explained, “Younger kids have an easier time of it. They found that simple commonalities like—in my Baltimore study—a love of the Ravens football team were enough to begin to connect with a peer.”

Loewer agreed, “There’s no pre-judgement. There’s no worry about fitting in.”

But then, Rhodes said, in adolescence, “As kids get into those older ages, they’re looking for their peers to be people they can really trust.”

True to the study, moving in high school was much harder for Loewer.

“Although I had a fine time in my junior/senior year, my junior year in particular, I wouldn’t say I was a ghost; I had friends, but it was definitely different,” detailed Loewer.

What can parents do to smooth the transition? Seek out community gathering places, look for appropriate activities in settings with adult supervision, and empathize with your child’s struggles to fit in.

Loewer said, “I think my parents did a really good job of making it our home. It never felt like we were not where we were supposed to be.”

Rhodes’ study followed 79 inner-city youth as they moved to the suburbs. The study highlights that adolescents may face some additional challenges in adjusting socially following a move from a high-poverty neighborhood, but there’s an overarching takeaway: The involvement of parents applies across the board.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Donna Parker, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

 

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