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The Effects of Moving on a Two-Year-Old Toddler

by Kathryn Hatter, studioD

Toddlers rely on routines for security. Disrupt a schedule and watch out. A move can be confusing and stressful for the entire family, but at least you understand and can talk about it. Your 2-year-old doesn’t have the language skills and maturity to tell you that moving stinks.


When the adults in the family are busy and stressed out from the preparation and transition of the move, it’s natural for this upheaval to trickle down to the littlest members of the family. A wise parent will minimize this stress on little people because it will only do them harm. Try to get help from friends and family during the moving process either with help packing or playing with your child while you pack. Another option is to work on move-related busy-work while your toddler is sleeping to minimize disruption.

Sleep Issues

Yank your toddler’s familiar surroundings and routine away from her and she’s going to go through a transition. Some children will react to this loss of security by developing sleep issues. Sleeping in a new room in a new house can be scary and overwhelming for a little one. He might have a hard time settling down, he might start waking and he might have nightmares. Setting up your toddler’s room first should be a priority to give him as much security as possible. Comfort him if he has trouble sleeping and keep the new routine low-key and consistent to help him acclimate to the new home.

Fear of the Unknown

No one likes an unknown future -- it’s scary and overwhelming. Your 2-year-old is no different, but she can’t express how freaked out she is about it. If you have pictures of the new house, show them to your child. If you can visit the new house before moving in, this can give your toddler a concrete idea of where she’s going. Let her see her new room so she knows what it looks like. When the big day comes, walk through your old house and say goodbye to each room together. Take pictures, too, to help her remember it.

Behavioral Issues

Unpleasant behavioral issues can appear during the transition of a move. You might notice clinginess, regression, nervous habits, eating issues, shyness or even aggression. These behavioral issues are another direct result of the language limitations of a 2-year-old, according to Zero to Three. The lack of language skills places toddlers in a position of using actions instead of words to express feelings. Unpleasant feelings often generate unpleasant actions. Provide lots of love and security during the move and always discipline consistently so your child learns the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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