Moving to a new country or a region in another part of the world, where nothing resembles what you left back in your native place, is always a challenge – as a lot of people who have gone through this transition would definitely acknowledge. But the most difficult level of this challenge involves taking the same route with children accompanying you.
Re-charting your course as a family in a new country can get really strenuous, especially if you don’t empathize with how your kids feel in this entirely new phase of their lives. For example, it might be difficult for you if you don’t know the native language, but with time and some effort, you will learn to navigate your way through the linguistic barrier without having a change of heart about the place. With children, however, encountering an entirely new language that is frequently spoken around them, especially in a new school, can be an isolating experience and can make the child develop low self-esteem. With children, it’s always more difficult to move to a new country, but with a bit of forethought and planning, you can definitely make the transition worthwhile and an exhilarating experience for your children
Keep the connections strong:
Being in a new place, the first thing your children will miss is the culture from their native country; events and the other day-to-day activities from back home. This can make them feel homesick. To counter this, as a parent, you need to make the emotional connection that your children share with you and their home stronger than ever. You need to create a sense of belonging in them by doing a couple of simple but highly effective activities, like having everyone sit together for at least one meal a day and share their experiences. This would allow them to vent the changes they have had to deal with, express the good things they like about their new country, and ask you to address any grievances they might have.
Celebrate the events that used to take place in your old country, like decorating the house on holidays, recreating special customs, and practicing religious traditions – and on top of this, make them understand and enjoy the events exclusive to their new country. This would not only help them cope with the change, but will also make them feel happier about it.
Dealing with ambiguity:
When you are in a new environment where you don’t know a lot of people, or might not even know the native language, it’s alright to feel a bit of frustration. But if you allow these feelings to flourish in your child, they could turn that frustration into fear or even resentment.
To have your children deal with these adverse feelings in a positive manner, you need to step in and make your children stronger by ingraining in them a higher sense of responsibility and the feeling that, by effort and courage, they can certainly overcome the barriers that they face in their new place. Ambiguity begets a feeling of powerlessness, so providing them with a plethora of reasons to feel powerful, you are definitely doing your children a favor.
Make them go out and play with kids their own age, take them on park trips and ask them to socialize with other people. Enroll them in language classes and ask them to guide you in places like shopping malls; this will make them feel that they are capable of handling things by themselves, forging a high degree of confidence. When your kids believe that they can do things by themselves, they become much more useful. For example, in your old country, you had a high number of friends and family members to take you to the urgent care center if you suddenly fell ill or had a mishap, but here you might not have that sort of support. If your children have this sort of strong ingrained belief of doing things on their own, they can call the emergency services and explain to them the situation – and they even have their newly acquired language skills to help them with this.
Enjoying the new country:
Every new country offers a plethora of opportunities to enjoy. Transitioning successfully for kids has a lot to do, at the end of the day, with how they actually feel about that place. There is no better way to accomplish this than to go out and explore your new and exciting home. This might be the best thing for your children, as they can see and experience things that they might not have been able to enjoy in their old country.
As a parent, you need to find out all the fun places that you can take your children to, like local carnivals and festivals, exhilarating mountains resorts, camping sites, and nearby cities. This will definitely open up the best side of this new country for your children and make them develop a deep liking for it. Your children need to feel this emotional appreciation, if you are planning to make this new country your permanent home for a long time.
Children are dependent on parents to create a positive environment for them, and, as one of those very parents, your duty is to make your children feel as happy, safe, and comfortable as you can – even if it’s in a new country. Open them up to travel, open them up to new experiences in a positive manner, and they will be fine in the end. It’s all about having a deep connection with the love of traveling.
Image source: Wikipedia – The Choir From the International School in Vienna