Moving is hard on everyone in the family, but the transition can be most difficult for teenagers. Teens are challenged with a multitude of social and psychological issues that young children and grown adults don’t encounter.

When your teen initially hears the news, the first thing that comes to mind is that they will have to move away from their friends. During junior high and high school, teenagers put a huge amount of time and energy into finding just the right peer groups. Through the process of trying to fit in, teens are forming their own identity. Especially if they don’t have much experience with moving, teens define themselves by who their friends are, where they hang out and what they do for fun in their free time. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to parents when their teens get instantly upset when parents inform them of the move.

If your teenager is struggling with leaving behind his or her school, friends and maybe even a first love, there are some ways to help your child survive and maybe even enjoy the experience. Here are some pointers.

Spend quality time with the family. Now more than ever, it’s critical to rally around your children and spend as much time as possible together as a family. It’s overwhelming and time-consuming to move, but don’t let this stop you from setting aside several hours each week to concentrate on your teenager. Remember that your top priority is your family. You must place making the transition as smooth as possible for your teenager at the top of your moving “must-do” list, or suffer the consequences of a frustrated, angry and disappointed child.

Talk about it. Encourage your teen to ask questions, and don’t have a demanding tone during your discussion. Help your teenager understand why you are moving, and be clear on all the benefits involved with the relocation. Instead of allowing your teenager to dwell on the negative, help him or her see the positive aspects of moving to a new town and high school. For instance, is there an award-winning choir at the new school? Does his or her new high school feature an amazing football or drama program? Don’t hesitate to pull out the new high school’s extra-curricular activity list and point out all the great opportunities available. Persuade your teen to research the new neighborhood so he or she can see all the fun stuff there is to do in the new hometown.

Expect a fight. It’s important to help your teenager recognize the positive aspects of moving to a new home and city. However, you must allow him or her to cry, whine, and release every other negative emotion. There’s a good chance your child will beg and plead for you not to move. Fights will occur, doors will be slammed and there will be plenty of tears shed. It’s important to recognize that much of the sadness is caused by fear of the unknown. Once your teen has worked through the emotions, let him or her know that you’re there to help conquer any fears that your child faces about the move.

Buy your teen a journal. It is important for teenagers to express their emotions during any transitional period in their lifetime. Even if your teen doesn’t like to write, jotting down his or her thoughts and feelings before going to bed can be very therapeutic

Have your teen read books or blogs. Check out books about teens who have moved or read personal blogs of people that are in the same situation. It helps to know that you’re not alone. It’s also a great way for your teen to figure out how he or she feels about the move and may even make it easier to talk about.

Physically engage your teen with the move. Being physically involved in the move will help your teen mentally prepare for the change. Make sure your teen packs his or her own room, and bring your teen with you as you shop for decorations, pick out paint colors, etc. The more involved your child is, the smoother the transition will be.

The first few days will be rough. If your teenager is struggling with being labeled the “new kid”, help him or her through those first few stressful days at school. Drop your child off and pick him or her up from school every day. Be there to address and work through all anxieties that your child is experiencing. Eventually, your teenager will meet friends and start adjusting to his or her new school, life and home. If things don’t seem to get better for your teenager, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. If you’re not sure where to find a psychiatrist or counselor in the area, ask for a referral or recommendation from the high school’s psychologist or guidance counselor.