One of the biggest challenges that expat families encounter when making the move abroad is helping their children settle comfortably and seeing them smile on a regular basis once the move is made. Change is never easy for anyone, especially children, but moving can be a fun experience if all members of the family become involved in the moving process.
When the decision is made to move abroad the first step a family needs to do is research their new destination together. Go on the internet as a family and find out about the area in which you are going to live. If you have children of varying ages you can gather them all around the computer and search for things in your new area that they might enjoy. It might be best if the adults did some early research to help guide the internet search with the children later rather than just jump in and look. Your family can visit the community office of your new destination on the internet and find out what they recommend for visitors and people new to the community. Another fun activity is to visit social networks such as Facebook and connect with people in your new area through this medium. If you have very young children it would be a very good decision to buy some books about moving abroad and read them with them. The family should read the books together so the adults and older siblings can show the younger children the advantages of moving such as making new friends and learning new things.
One mistake that some expat families make is they don’t show their children how to say farewell. Take the time to collect mementos and have the friends and relatives of the children come to your home and show them where you are going as a family. Turn the experience into a party and take pictures that you can put on a family website or a website for your children. By taking these actions your children will be able to move forward to their new home while still remembering and maintaining contact with their friends and loved ones.
When expat families arrive in their new home they need to immediately help their children connect with children in their new neighbourhoods. The best way to do this is for the adults to knock on the doors of their neighbours and invite them over to your new home. Having a barbecue or even just sharing some snacks in your home can help your children interact with the children of people in your new neighbourhood. Your children might already have made connections through the various social networks but now they get to meet their neighbours and new friends in the comfort of your new home. Once your children have made new friends you will see your children smile and be more accepting of new and different cultures and activities.
Another challenge for expat families is helping their children become comfortable in their new school. However, this can be achieved by meeting with the teachers in person. Sit down and make a list about what type of character your child is and take it to the school. Meet with those individuals who will teach your child and have a discussion about their personalities. Give the teachers some further information about your children so that they have some insights and can find a way to connect with your child. This knowledge will help the teachers make your child feel less nervous when meeting their new teachers and learning in a different environment. The last thing expat families need to do when moving abroad is to remember to retain some of their family traditions. Your family is moving as a unit so the things you did in your past home you should try to do in your new home. If the family used to eat together on Sunday afternoon and then watch a television show as a family then that tradition should be maintained. This familiarity will help your children realise that while the location of the family home may be different the good things about the family which is the members of the family and their values are still the same. This will help your children embrace the move and help bring smiles to their faces which for expat families, is the most important thing.