Moving abroad is a tough adjustment for everyone, especially for children and teenagers. Adjusting to a new school, navigating a foreign city, making new friends, perhaps learning a new language—there’s so much to learn in an instant.
While it’s perfectly normal for kids to struggle at first, here’s how you can make the transition easier for them.
1. Make your new home a sanctuary
The goal is to make your child feel safe and comfortable in your new home. The sooner you unpack those boxes and set up your belongings, the sooner your kids will be able to adapt to their new surroundings.
If possible, prioritize your child’s bedroom. Make him feel excited about having a new room and get him involved in the decorating process. Fill the room with a mixture of new things and elements from the past to help build a sense of security and comfort.
2. Keep in touch with loved ones
The first few months are the toughest. During this period, your child will likely struggle with homesickness. That’s why keeping in touch with folks back home is crucial. Social media is great for connecting with people from all over the world. Encourage your kid to constantly send messages and photos to family and friends back home. This can ease some loneliness in the beginning, and should help your child adjust quickly.
3. Make lots of new friends
While connecting with people from home is great, be careful not to let it hinder your child from forming new friendships.
Ensure your child meets new friends as soon as possible. School is the easiest way to meet new faces and form bonds, since they’ll be interacting with the same people every day. Consider enrolling them to a high school for international students. This will expose them to diverse cultures and up their chance of meeting new people from the same home country.
But it’s important that they make friends outside of school, too. Encourage them to participate in extra-curricular activities or enroll them in art clubs or sporting teams. This will not only expand their social circle, but also encourage them to have fun and stay busy. Having something to look forward to each day can lessen feelings of sadness and homesickness.
4. Celebrate traditions
While you should encourage your kid to embrace the practices in their new country, there’s no reason not to bring some fun activities from back home. Doing so can also help your kid remember and cherish their roots.
Practicing your home country’s traditions is a great way to make new friends. Whether it’s celebrating a local holiday or cooking your child’s favorite native food, you can invite your neighbors over and share the fun.
Moving to a new country entails a lot of sacrifices from the whole family. It’s important to create a safe space where your kids can share their struggles and feel validated. The best way to help your kids adjust to this new life is to give them time and respect their feelings. While the move can be stressful for everyone, it can also be one of the most rewarding decisions your family will ever make.