Making the decision to relocate to another part of the world is always going to be a difficult consideration to make and will be significantly more so if there are children involved. It has to be said that despite so many parents’ fears about how a big move can affect their child, it is undisputed that the benefits of experiencing being an expat as a child are significant.
From exploring a brand new country, to learning different languages, meeting different people and becoming accustomed to change- these are all positive things that your child can take away as an expat. The key to making sure your child settles in well in their new surroundings is down to you and how you go about preparing your child to thrive in a brand new life. With a little research and the tailored assistance of a relocation service
, you will soon find that your child flourishes in their new homeland.
When making the choice to move, whether this is your child’s first expat experience or not, it is vital that you introduce the idea early on in order to get your child used to the concept. Typically, a child’s reaction to the news will depend on their personality, age and level of understanding, so be sure to explain the expatriation idea to them in a way that suits your family best. After all, only you know the best way to approach your child with an important matter. You may find that your child worries about their toys, friends etc. when the move is mentioned, which makes involving your child in the process fully that much more important.
Some of the ways in which you can ease your child into being a part of the adventure of the move are as follows:
Encourage them to help in organising things for the move e.g. packing up their belongings
Take time to learn more about the country you are moving to with them. This can be achieved through reading up about the destination, looking at maps etc.
Discuss all areas of the move with them
Make a list of their favorite things in their current country. Document by taking photos and/or drawing pictures. Build a scrapbook and then do the same after settling in at the new destination.
Draw or make a list of things that you can all do and experience when you arrive
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Plan For Potential Problems Integrating
Despite the very best intentions and forward planning, as a parent you should always be prepared to deal with situations where your children may find themselves struggling to adjust to a new way of life. The speed and ease with which a child blends into everyday life in their new home depends on the country you choose to relocate to and the amount of differences and difficulties they encounter (e.g. language or climate). On the whole, expat children do adjust to life abroad more quickly and easily than we expect them to. Simply allow them the time to do so.
Perhaps one of the best side-effects of expatriate life is the fact that your children will be able to learn a brand new language. Language skills are among some of the most respected and sought-after skills that anyone can acquire and these skills have the potential to open doors for your child as they grow up. Being bi-lingual or multi-lingual is something that you as a parent should encourage. Younger children are known to pick up languages very well whereas teens or young adults may need a little added help through attending language classes.
When it comes to being an expat kid, perhaps one of the biggest issues to face is the idea of your identity and knowing who you are or where you belong. Having to make the switch between one initial culture to another can be a balancing act that does sometimes mean children end up feeling a little lost. Some children are able to work to establish their own culture and create a combined expat culture made up of their current and old homelands. A phenomenon called ‘third-culture kids’ is something that has been claimed to be a common feature of some expat children who have a belief that they are from ‘everywhere’ although find that they never truly fit in ‘anywhere’. One way to ensure that this does not become a problem is to arrange for your child to meet with other expat kids as they will find someone of their age to relate to.
The main thing to remember as the parent of an expat kid is that children are resilient and tend to mimic their parents – the way that you react to the move will rub off on them- so positivity and pro-activeness is key. While making the decision to relocate your family is never going to be an easy one, nor will it not have an impact on your child’s life, it has to be said that there are far more positives to be gained than drawbacks. Expat kids often tend to be more open-minded and adaptable, so why not look forward to the future with optimism and make the most of your family’s next big adventure.