Moving overseas can be just as stressful as it is exciting, especially for kids.
They too have to get used to the idea of starting over, making new friends, and adjusting to a new school and new surroundings. Because they are so young, it’s hard for them to express how they’re feeling during this emotional time. As adults, it’s important for us to be aware of how affected our children are by moving to a new country and new home. Here are a few guidelines you can follow to help make the move overseas easier on your kids:
• Tell your kids about the move as soon as the decision is made.
Try to incorporate as many of their ideas about the move as you can. It’s important they know they are an important part of the family, especially during this time.
• Give your kids a chance to discuss their feelings about the move.
Kids who are able to discuss their feelings and doubts often have an easier time working through them. Feel free to share some of your feelings about the move as well. This will reassure them that they’re not alone in their concerns.
• Encourage your kids to keep in contact with old friends,
while at the same time making new ones. Help prepare a list of phone numbers and addresses of close friends. They will feel better knowing they can keep in contact with these important people. Help them say good bye to these people by throwing a pizza party or slumber party.
• If possible, take your child to visit your destination country.
Give them a chance to explore their new neighborhood and school. If this is not an option, let your kids research the country you are moving to. The library and Internet are both excellent tools for finding information and pictures. The more familiar the country is to them, the more comfortable they will feel once you have moved. If you are moving to a country that does not use English as the primary language, enroll your kids in a few introductory language classes.
• Let your kids participate when it comes time to pack up their bedroom.
Let them decorate the boxes, and carry what they can to the moving van. When you are unpacking their things in your new home, let them decide where they want to put things.
• Try not to pack items that your kids treasure,
such as a blanket or favorite toy. Let them bring the item with them on the plane.
• Once you have arrived at your destination,
give your kids some time to adjust to their new surroundings. Take walks with them, and check out the local restaurants and neighborhoods. Try to introduce them to some of the other kids in the neighborhood.
• Most important, make sure your children know you are there to listen to their concerns and fears.