Moving homes linked to emotional and behavioural outbursts in children - study

Four-year-olds who have moved homes act out more than those who have not, a study has found.

The Otago University study found a link between moving house and increases in emotional and behavioural difficulties in four-year-olds.

Looking at the data from the before-school check for more than 300,000 Kiwi kids, it found children exposed to greater residential mobility were 8 percent more likely to show socioemotional and behavioural difficulties that would be cause for clinical concern.

New Zealand has relatively high rates of residential mobility compared to other countries. Two-thirds of the children studied had moved at least once by the time they were four.

PhD student Kim Nathan told Newshub shifting could be a troubling time for youngsters.

"If they're in pre-school will they still see their friends, will they still see their family members," she said. "Those are the kinds of things that will be preying on their mind."

But expressing that to parents and family members could prove challenging.

"Children, of course, can't always express how they're feeling verbally and so that experience of the stress added with the move comes out in their behaviour and emotions," Nathan said.

Parents can curb the issue though, Nathan suggested keeping to a routine and ensuring children's belongings are close by throughout the move and don't get lost.

The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.


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