Helping Kids Deal with the Stress and Sadness of Moving to Another Country
Many children find moving to be a traumatic experience, especially if the move involves leaving their home country. Leaving family, friends, schools, and other familiar social groups is stressful and disappointing. As a parent who’s moving with children, you want to make the transition as smooth as possible. To help ease some of the stress and sadness around a big move, have a game plan for how you’ll break the news. Research new schools, and help your children visualize themselves in their new country.
Telling Kids About the Move
Children think that moving should be a decision that’s made collectively. When you inform them that they’re moving without their input, they feel forced into leaving their friends, schools, country, and other familiarities behind. The folks at Very Well Family recommend you be up front about the situation and tell them as early as you can to show consideration for how the move will affect them. When you break the news, ensure you have time to sit and talk about it.
Your kids will want to know exactly when they’re moving, so be as specific as possible about when it will happen. While you may not know the exact day, try to estimate. It’s perfectly normal for children to feel angry or upset about moving. Allow them to process their feelings while emphasizing the positives. Help them find ways to healthily deal with their emotions, such as a journal. Discuss ways they can keep in touch with their friends once they move.
The New School
For many kids, a lot of stress revolves around the new school. In some cases, you may be moving to an area with one school, so you don’t get to choose. If this applies to you, look up the school online and know important information about it to share with your children. Also, show your children the school online so they can see what it looks like. This will help them get a glimpse of the school’s atmosphere. Some parents are able to choose a school from several options. If this applies to you, narrow down the list to a few options, and let your kids provide their opinions.
There are a lot of questions you should consider when choosing a new school for your child. Determine the most important things you want in a school and figure out your child’s individual wants and needs. Perhaps you’re looking for a school with a certain educational approach, one that has smaller classes, or one that has programs to help immigrant children adjust easier. You may wish to find a school with sports or arts, or you may be concerned about how tech-savvy the school is. If possible, visit a few schools in person. If that’s not an option, perform phone interviews to determine if it’s a good fit.
Preparing for the Move
Helping your children visualize as much as they can about the new location can help alleviate stress and fear. Show your children pictures of the new home and neighborhood. You can also discuss ideas about how to decorate their new rooms.
A great suggestion from Care.com is allowing children to say goodbye to the old house. Talk with your children about how they would like to say goodbye to their closest friends. They may want a private get-together with friends, or they may want a big party to celebrate their memories and times together. If possible, get their friends to bring items to create a scrapbook that’s full of their favorite memories.
Let your children know that there are many ways to stay in touch with friends and family in their home country. For example, if you have loved ones in India, you can use apps like Skype and Zoom to regularly chat with them, or you can send them care packages through an affordable shipping company like Parcel Monkey. And if you want to provide financial support to loved ones, you can utilize an affordable money transfer service like Remitly, which promises transfers in as little as four hours.
Moving brings about many changes for children. The unknown can be scary, and saying goodbye is heartbreaking. While you can’t completely remove the stress and pain, you can help make the transition easier. Being prepared when you break the news is key. Be ready for their emotions and questions, and help them visualize living in their new country. Allowing a proper and meaningful goodbye is a great way to close the old chapter and prepare for what the next page in life brings.
Jenna Sherman is a member of Parent Leaders. Visit their website at parent-leaders.com/
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