There is a lot to consider before moving abroad with children, including looking for a job, finding a quality global health insurance provider, making new social circles and much more. It can become easy to get wrapped up in your own moving process and as a result, we end up overlooking our children, who are going through the same thing, albeit from a different perspective. Moving to another country can be worrying and upsetting for any child, as they are leaving behind everything and everybody they know. In this post, we will provide you with some top tips to help your children cope with moving abroad.
Be mindful of Expat Child Syndrome
When some children move abroad, they can experience emotional stress, which is referred to as Expat Child Syndrome, commonly abbreviated to ECS. This is not something that can be predicted nor can it be prevented. However, you can reduce the chances of your children going through this stress and you can do yourself the world of good by educating yourself on how to help your children settle in once you have relocated abroad. The first thing you have to do is understand everything from your kids’ point of view. It is not hard to see why moving abroad would cause emotional distress for any child, as unfamiliar situations can be intimidating and they can find themselves grieving for the home, family, and friends they have left behind. It is older children, those between the age of 10 and 16 years old, that tend to suffer the most, and this is because they have already developed strong social circles at home and they find it difficult to leave this behind. This is why you have to make a conscious effort to help your children adapt to their new life.
Communication is key
One of the most important things when it comes to moving abroad with children is communication. It is vital to involve your child in the moving process, as you will make them feel like they have control over certain aspects, and this will make them feel more comfortable with moving. Ask them about their feelings, their fears and what they are most looking forward to. Make sure they are involved in the de cluttering and packing process so they know all their favourite belongings will be moving with them too.
When they are feeling down or worried, you need to find the time to listen to them and put their mind at ease, even if you have a million other things to plan and sort out. Whether this is before or after the move it is vital that you really listen to what they are saying and help them ease their anxieties. If it is prior to the move get them to help plan the first few days, can they suggest places to go for a walk, explore or even for tea, this will help to make the move more exciting. If it is after the move encourage them to face time or write to their old friends and tell them about the move.
Prioritise their bedroom
Often it is the little things that matter when it comes to helping your children settle in their new home. One thing you should do is make your children’s bedroom a priority. Give them the opportunity to choose their room if possible. Let them have a degree of control over the room and how it is going to be decorated, as this will create a sense of excitement and it will also help them to feel comfortable in their new home too. Before you move print off some photographs of their family and friends so they are ready to be framed and put in their new bedroom from day 1.
Introducing your new location
You can also help your child prepare for their new life abroad before you make the move. One of the main reasons they will be scared and apprehensive is because it is a step into the unknown. Let’s say you are moving to Rawang, a beautiful part of Malaysia, albeit completely different to your current way of life in the UK. So, you should introduce them to Rawang, whether this means buying some food from the destination, logging into certain websites or buying books and DVDs. This will help them to get a sense of what they are going to be experiencing, and this will make your child feel more at ease when the big move comes. You can do this for any location but it is even more important for those with completely different cultures and ways of life.
Aside from this, creating a stable support network in your new location is imperative, especially when your child is leaving behind a network of close friends. It is all about getting the balance right; you need to help your child meet friends in their new location but you also need to allow them to keep in touch with their old friends. It is a good idea to try and create opportunities for your kids to meet new children of a similar age, whether it’s inviting the neighbours around for dinner or encouraging them to embrace extracurricular activities. However, while it may be tempting to try and get your child to distance themselves from their old life, as you may feel it will help them to settle in better, you should not cut off ties altogether. It is important to allow your child to keep in touch with their old friends and don’t ignore your old traditions either, whether this means enjoying certain food or embracing various holidays.
Choosing a school
You also need to choose a school with a great amount of care. You will have two options to choose from – a local school and an international school. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with both. Young children tend to pick up new languages a lot easier and sending them to a local school may be an excellent way of making them adapt to their new country and the local people, especially if you have moved there on a permanent basis. If you move abroad a lot or if your children are older, it is a good idea to consider an international school. If you send your child to an international school, they may find the settling-in process a lot easier, as they will meet kids that are in a similar position to them and may even have the same sort of background.
Of course, you are going to be exceptionally busy when you first move to your new home, however, it is important to spend a considerable amount of time with your child. Remember, they are only going to have you in the beginning, and thus you need to be there for them. You should explore your new location with your kids to help familiarise them with their new surroundings and you should try and do a few family activities together too.
All things considered, there is no denying that moving abroad with children can be daunting for anyone, and your children are bound to be feeling nervous and scared. But, if you follow the tips that have been provided in this article, you can help to ensure that the move goes as smoothly as possible.
If you are thinking of moving abroad with your children but are yet to decide on where then you may want to consider one of these places as they were hailed the happiest countries to live in according to recent research.