We timed our move to Cyprus well, in that Leo was only 6 months old so he didn't have any concept of the fact we were going to live in a new country but I've often thought how hard it must be for children who are old enough to understand. This guest post covers some of the things to bear in mind for those moving with older children.
Moving Abroad With Kids - Planning and Preparation
Moving abroad can be a challenging experience in itself, but it becomes even more difficult when kids are involved. Careful planning and preparing your kids for moving abroad are two essential steps that will ensure a positive and rewarding experience for the entire family.
Kids feel safe at home, as this is the place where all their friends and family are. When breaking the news that the family will be moving abroad, you’re likely to get a range of responses. These generally depend on the age of your kids and they can vary from reluctance to excitement – and these might change over time. They might get excited about this new adventure, but at the same time they’re likely to get upset about leaving their friends behind. Parents need to prepare their children and be sympathetic to their feelings and needs.
In the majority of cases, children do not have an option when it comes to moving to another country. This can often result in feelings of helplessness that can even lead to resentment. In order to help your kids avoid these feelings, you should begin talking with them about the move from the decision-making phase. This way, the kids will feel included and the move will not come as a shock.
Moving abroad has an undeniable effect on your kids’ education. Cultural barriers and language issues might be educational obstacles for some kids, whereas other children may experience enhanced learning and thrive in a new environment. It is important to choose the right school for your kids when moving abroad. Options generally include attending local schools, international schools or even home schooling – talking to your kids about the best options for them will again help them feel included and like they have some measure of autonomy over the situation.
Kids may feel isolated and lonely immediately after changing the environment, so it is important to encourage them to keep in touch with friends at home and become engaged in sports and extracurricular activities. Losing social support beyond the family can lead to negative emotions and these are some of the best ways to avoid this problem.
The “expat child syndrome” is a term coined by psychologists in order to describe the psychological effects of moving abroad. Disruptive behaviour and isolation are the most common symptoms of this syndrome and they can be generally avoided by communicating honestly and open with the children and spending plenty of time with them. Assisting them to keep in touch with people back home – perhaps by starting a blog or Skyping close friends and family – will help them feel closer to those back home.
Vivienne Egan writes for Now Health who specialise in international healthinsurance.