Emigration is Tough on Kids, But You Can Still Help

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Emigrating, or moving abroad, is perhaps one of the most exciting things that any family can do. A new life, a better career, and a different culture: everything changes. And it’s becoming more common. Thanks to globalization and the global nature of the economy, people are increasingly doing business in multiple countries and looking for jobs outside of their native homeland.

But moving abroad tends to stir up different feelings in adults and children. Whereas adults see emigration as an opportunity, children often see it as a threat and, as a result, emotions can run high.

The problem for children is that they don’t have an adult perspective. Children aren’t interested in the acquisition of wealth or career advancement - these aren’t concepts that mean anything to them, especially young children. What kids want is a secure environment: one that changes very little during their development. They want mommy and daddy to be there for them in the same capacity that they always have been because of how dependent they are on them for resources and protection. Emigration threatens that relationship, at least in their minds, which is why children often offer so much resistance.

So how can you help kids when it comes to emigration?

Be Proactive When You Arrive

Some parents don’t tell their kids that the move abroad is permanent. Instead, they allow them to settle into their “holiday” environment for a couple of weeks to see for themselves that it’s not so bad. But any parent following this strategy needs to be highly proactive. That means going out and searching the local neighborhood for other families and finding playmates for their child. There are all sorts of charities, schools, and organizations that help bring children together for social interaction: it’s just a case of finding the one that’s right for yours.

Help Them Settle Into School

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The next big worry on the list is school. Fitting into a new school, especially as the child gets older, is difficult. It’s hard feeling like the odd one out when all the other children in the class have formed relationships. Parents can help smooth the process by going to teachers and talking to them about their child’s needs so that teachers have the tools to help them.

Keep Strong Links With The Home Country

Maintaining strong links with the folks back home is essential for helping children stay grounded and connected with their previous life. And thanks to digital technologies, doing so is easier than ever. Skype, Zoom, and Facetime are mostly free. And with the high data rates between countries, communication is quick and easy.

Children, however, shouldn’t be too focused on the past, though, as it may hinder their integration into their new society. The focus should be on the rules and rituals of their new home as the page here talks about. Becoming a citizen of a new country has its challenges.

Tell Them Stories About Moving Abroad

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Kids’ concepts of what it’s like to live in another country can vary wildly. Some children believe that it will be just like where they live now and that people are just people. Others imagine all kinds of radically different scenarios, some good, others bad. It’s important for parents to realize that both of these perspectives are probably wrong. But, communicating with children about the concept of emigrating in adult terms probably won’t help matters much.

For that reason, many parents are turning to literature. Stories help children immerse themselves in new worlds as well as learn new lessons which can’t be learned through simple, verbal communication. Books like Sammy’s Next Move can help elucidate the experiences of children as they move all over the world, showing them that it’s an opportunity - not something to be scared of.

Give Them Time To Say Goodbye

If kids have close links to their home communities, then they need an opportunity to say goodbye to friends and family. There’s an old adage that if you fail to say goodbye to your home community, then you’ll get off on the wrong foot in your new one.

Children can say goodbye to their friends in all sorts of ways. They can give them a photo album of their memories together, exchange bracelets, or do something else. These memories will help give the child something valuable to hold onto if they find themselves struggling to form relationships once they’ve moved.

Emigration can be tough on kids. But with the right parenting strategy, you can give them the best chance to thrive in their new community.

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