Moving to another place is stressful for adults, let alone children. Everything that’s familiar is taken away, and they’re thrown into a totally different situation, without their friends, teachers, favourite playground slide and the home they grew up in. The situation can be traumatic on so many levels for everybody, but here are some tips on how to make the transition as smooth as possible:
1. Have a lot of empathy
It’s probably hard enough for you, and if you add your child(ren) to the mix, things can get even worse. When it comes to dealing with kids’ emotions, try imagining things from their perspective. They’re moving to a new place and attending a new school, with all the accompanying problems, where everything and everyone is unfamiliar. All of their friends are far away and their parents are insanely busy all of a sudden. Before you lash out at them, take a deep breath and change the point of view. You’ll realize that it’s not easy being a child in a foreign country. Instead, try helping them adjust to the new environment.
2. Consult a therapist
This might be the last resort, but it’s still effective, especially if there are a lot of underlying emotions. Talking to your child about feelings can be challenging for some parents, but with the right therapist, a kid can learn to manage their emotions. Plus it’s always good to have an unbiased person around who can see things from a fresh new angle. You don’t even have to search for an English-speaking therapist at your new residence since a lot of therapists at home offer online sessions nowadays.
3. Research carefully
Before you move for good, make sure you’ve researched everything. Being prepared yourself means that you can also help your kids. Things that should be researched vary, but the most important ones are real estate prices, restaurants, healthcare options, crime rates, the local mentality, grocery prices, traffic situation, and visa details. If you feel like you’ve done a lot to get prepared, that fact only will make you feel more empowered.
4. Don’t be pushy
You probably want your kids to settle painlessly, but sometimes, things can complicate even if you try your best. Forcing your kids to immediately adjust to a new school can have the opposite effect. They should see you as a partner, not a demanding boss. Setting boundaries is fine, but don’t go overboard with making your child fit in. They need love and guidance so be patient and supportive.
5. Find a good school
Learning a new language can be daunting for adults, but kids are smart and can pick up foreign languages very quickly. That’s why it’s good for them to have extra English lessons. In Asia, there are many international schools, but it’s always recommended they start school in a local language. That’s why there are many English schools both for the locals and foreigners. Some of them, such as Monkey Tree in Hong Kong, offer Spanish courses as well. It might seem unnecessary at first, but attending extra English lessons can help your child preserve their native English skills, including the accent, grammar, and writing.
6. Embrace the new culture
There’s nothing wrong with maintaining traditions from home, but since you’re all in a new place, why not learn something new? Learning the language is only the first step. Aside from that, you should get used to new food, new mentality, rules, laws and the fact that you’re far from home. Being homesick is normal, but don’t let that spoil everything. Your homesickness shouldn’t stop you or your kids from integrating into the new society. Learning the language together and going to the local restaurants and shops can be a great bonding exercise for everyone.
7. The positive attitude is everything
Okay, this one might seem overused, but when you do something drastic such as moving to a new country, you need to practice self-encouragement all the time. Make that your little routine. Every time you’re alone, just give yourself a little encouraging pep talk. There’s no point in reminiscing about how things were back home; you’ve got a new life now, so make the best of it. If you spend time on feeling sorry for yourself and missing your old life, the new one will pass you by. Your kids will grow up and there won’t be a way back. Stay in touch with old friends, but make some space for new ones, too.
Marie Nieves is a student and a blogger who loves unusual trips, gadgets and creative ideas. She is an avid lover of photography interested in interior and exterior design and regular author on several blogs. For her articles, she often consults decor specialists and home organisation experts. You can find Marie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and G+.