How to help your children adapt to living in a new country

When you’re thinking about moving to another country, there are lots of things that you might have to think about. One thing that is vital to consider is how your children feel about the move, and how that might affect them in the future. Of course, you will be making the move because you feel that it is the best thing for your family – however for children it is often not that straightforward, and for this reason you should always try to prepare them for the move as best you can. This article will take you through some important things that you need to know before, during, and after you have moved.

Before the move

Explain your decision
Depending on the age of your children, they will understand different aspects of your plan to move. If your children are old enough to understand, it is important that you tell them as much as possible about why you plan to move abroad, and why you feel it is the best decision. If they feel as though things are going on that they don’t understand they may worry – so keeping them in the loop is important.

Involve them when possible
With big decisions, it is often tempting to keep children away from the action as much as possible, so that you can get things done. In this case, however, it can help to involve your child in as many decisions as you can. Things like choosing luggage, or deciding on wallpaper for your new house, if your child feels involved then they will feel as though they have more ownership over the decisions.

Point out what’s good about the move
If your child has a hobby, it is good if they can see that the new country is even better for their hobby than where they live now. Each country has different things that children will be able to take part in, and if you can find some exciting examples, this is likely to encourage your child to accept and even enjoy the move.

During the move

Allow your child to take some things with them
Although you won’t be able to take everything with you when you move, you should try your best to let them take a few things, as this will make the new house feel like home. There are some toys that your child will never want to leave behind, but having even one case of toys to take with them can be hugely comforting, as it means that not everything has to change.

Say a proper goodbye
Your child might be sad at the thought of saying goodbye to family and friends, so it is important that they have the chance to do so properly. For each person you are leaving behind, you should try to plan a visit, so that your child can see everybody, and be reassured that they will be able to stay in touch with them. This can help a lot when it comes to making departure easier.

Once you get there

Get into a routine as quickly as possible
Children thrive on routine, and it is important to get into one as soon as you can when you arrive. If you can, you should try to keep hold of some things that they did when they were at home – for example if you always took your child swimming on a Sunday morning, it would be good to still do this. It can provide some continuity between the two homes, which can help to bridge the gap.

Keep in touch with people at home
Your child is likely to miss home, at least at the beginning, but keeping in touch with loved ones is important. Skype and Facebook are great for this, and your child should be encouraged to keep in touch, and to send letters and photos to family back home. This can help them feel more connected, and should help them to settle in better.

Make lots of new friends
There will be plenty of ways to meet people when you get to your new home, and it is vital that your child makes friends as quickly as possible. School can help with this, but you should also encourage them to try as many extra-curricular activities as they can. Not only will this help them to meet new people, but it will also help them to stay busy, which can help if they struggle with missing home.

Make your child’s bedroom a priority
Your child’s bedroom will become a place where they feel safe and at home, so the sooner it is set up, the sooner they will be able to settle in. This is a good room to start with when you arrive if you can. You may find that a lot of boxes are littered around the place for weeks after you move in, but if you can, try to get everything unpacked in your child’s room, as this helps them to see your home as somewhere that they are staying, rather than just being on holiday.

Although moving to another country can be stressful, it can also be one of the most rewarding decisions that you will ever make. For this reason, you should try everything that you can to make the move smooth and stress-free for your children – as this means that they will be able to make the most of all of the opportunities that are available to them much more quickly.

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