How to Help Your Kids Adapt to a New Country

Written by Dr. Russ Gadzhiev

“Let us reach out to the children. Let us do whatever we can to support their fight to rise above their pain and suffering.” – Nelson Mandela

 

“Children are more than we think they are; they can do more than we think they can do. All they need is a vote of confidence from grownups, whom they will ultimately replace anyway. Their dream today will become the realities of tomorrow.” – Wess Stafford

 

It goes without saying that moving overseas is a decision that needs careful planning. You need to think about many things. And if you have children, the list of things that you need to consider is twice as long. Apart from your own happiness and well-being in a new place, you will have to think about your children too. Research shows that children thrive on routine and stability. In fact, routine and stability are essential for their mental well-being. So a parent who decides to move abroad with their children has to be thoroughly prepared for such an important decision and keep in mind the needs of their children.

Parents considering moving overseas with children face a number of important questions. How will my child cope with the move? Will they be able to find friends and socialize? Will it be difficult for them to learn a new language? Will they have problems at school? Will they fit in at all? In fact, you must prioritize your child’s well-being first. In this article, we are going to talk about how a few important things that you need to consider if you are moving overseas with a child.

 

Talk to Your Child 

 

Talk to your children and explain why you are moving. Now, of course, whether this conversation should take place or not, will depend on your children’s age. If you believe that your child is actually old enough to see and understand what is happening, then talking to them is absolutely necessary. Be honest with them and tell them why you have made the decision to move and, most importantly, explain how the move will benefit them and you. Make sure that your conversation with your child is consistent. Make sure you are always available for them to discuss their concerns.

 

Establish a Daily Routine

 

Once you have moved, it is important to establish a daily routine as soon as possible. Human beings thrive on routine and children all the more so. For example, if back home your child attended dancing classes, it would be a good idea to sign up for a similar class or course. Not only will it help them make new friends and become more familiar with the unfamiliar environment, but it will also provide a certain continuity with what they did at home. It will also keep them busy – this is especially important if your child starts missing home (which, of course, they will inevitably do).

 

Your child is also very likely to miss home and friends, so allowing them to use facetime or skype to talk to their loved ones back home is a good idea too. Some parents worry that allowing children to spend too much time online may discourage them from making new friends. But this should not be a reason for concern. It will merely help your child stay connected.

Also allowing your children to use facetime and skype to reconnect with their friends back home will help you focus on the move.

What you can also do is encourage other members of your family who your child feels attached, to visit you overseas. If they come and visit, this will help your children understand that these people are still present in their lives and because they are far away it does not mean they have disappeared.

 

Do Not Pretend Like Moving is Not a Big Deal

 

If your child feels sad about moving acknowledge their feelings and honor their grief. After all, being sad about leaving a place where you have spent a big part of your life is totally normal and should be expected. Encourage them to visit their friends, take pictures, add each other on social media, and say goodbye.

If there are places in your town that your child particularly feels attached to, encourage them to visit these places (or better yet, go there with them).

Also remind your children that after some time, you will definitely have a trip back home to see family and friends. This will help them realize that they are not saying goodbye to the place that they are used to forever.

 

Give Your Children a Sense of Control

 

Many parents are guilty of thinking that their children are too young to have any meaningful input in their plans. Perhaps, it may be true – but you can still make your children feel as if they are as involved in the process of moving as you. This will give them a feeling of control over the situation and will calm their mind if they are anxious. Talk to your children about the general plans. Ask them what kind of area they would like to live in, and what kind of school would they like to go to. Also, discuss what kinds of fun things you will be able to do there once you have moved. If you are in the process of choosing a home, sit down together and have a look at the pictures of different houses that you are considering. Ask your children which one they like and why.

Also, make a point of discussing what school they would like to choose and actually try to heed their advice. Sit down with them and do some research together on the subject.

 

Help Your Children Learn the Language

 

Help them learn the language of the country where you are planning to move to. One of the factors that may prevent your children from successful acculturation and adjustment in a new country is the language barrier. So it is better to prepare your children for the move by sending them to language courses, where they can become used to the language and pick up some phrases. When looking for courses or tutors, make sure that the courses are delivered in a fun and entertaining way. Also, apart from courses, there is something else that you can do to help your children learn the new language and develop an interest in it – you can find songs or age-appropriate films in the language of your new country and watch them together.

This is especially a good idea if you also need to learn the language. You will be happy to know that the younger your children are the faster they will learn the language. But of course, the best way to ensure that they are not struggling with the language in their new country is to start helping them learn as early as possible.

 

Certainly, moving overseas can be extremely overwhelming as well as physically and emotionally exhausting for anyone. And it is especially the case with children. Imagine how they feel when you ask them to leave behind a place that they used to call home. The good news is that, just like you, your children will be able to overcome this initial frustration and get used to a new place. As a parent, you must do everything you can to make sure that this transition to a new place is as smooth for your children as possible.

Also, remember that children tend to emulate the behavior and emotions of adults. So if you are anxious and extremely nervous about the move, your children will feel the same way too. Alternatively, if you radiate happiness and excitement, your children will be equally happy and excited (at least eventually). So show them that you are excited and happy about the move. Focus on the positives and make them focus on the positive experiences too. After all, moving abroad will open up multiple opportunities both for you and your child. And more likely than not, when your children grow up they will thank you for the bold decision you have made and the support you gave them during the process of the move.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Dr. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and proven ability to effectively communicate with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is passionate about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese. He has lived in Russia, Australia, Spain and Brazil and he possesses first-hand knowledge about the issues that people face when moving to other countries and adjusting to a new culture. 

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