Preparing Your Children for an International Move

Preparing Your Children for an International Move

International relocation is difficult for almost everyone, but if you are tasked with uprooting your family, including children, you are faced with even more obstacles on your path to a successful move.

The two most important things to remember are that:

  1. Children are resilient, and despite what may be a difficult transition, they will make it through okay, as long as they are provided adequate support along the way.
  2. You know your child and your child’s personality and temperament best, so although this information will help aid you in the process, only you can be sure if the tips and suggestions will work well for you and your family’s personal situation.

Every age group is different, as is the response that you will receive when first breaking the news to your child of an impending international relocation or executive transportation.  Some children will take this information in stride, looking at the move as an opportunity for a new adventure, a chance to start anew.  Other children may react with fear, anger, or sadness, scared of what the future may hold.  Be receptive to either response and try hard to listen to what your child has to say.  Giving their concerns validation will make you more of an ally versus an enemy in the scenario that will play out.  This brings us to our number one step in preparing your children for an international move.

Listen

Most people tend to listen with the intent to reply, when you should actually listen with the intent to understand.  Instead of predicting your child’s response and preparing arguments to counteract their doubts, listen to what they are actually saying in an attempt to truly understand their hesitations.  If you have decided to relocate your family internationally, it can be safe to say you have decided this is the best course of action for everyone.  It should also be assumed that you did not make this decision lightly or quickly, so be patient, and listen to understand any objections voiced by your child.

Practice Empathy

This is the logical next step after truly listening and hearing your child (or children’s) concerns.  Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel to learn that you will be uprooted from the place AND country you call home and transplanted somewhere away from all that is familiar.  This is a scary idea, and you must recognize, validate, and give credence to this very relatable fear.

Provide Reassurance

This is especially important when dealing with younger children, as they look up to you and inherently trust that you have their best interests in mind.  It is also important to remain positive while around the children, even if you have doubts or concerns yourself.  Children are more perceptive than we give them credit for, and they will pick up on any negativity you exude regarding the move.

Make It Exciting

This may seem to be an obvious suggestion, especially because it would be difficult, if not impossible, to make a relocation of this magnitude seem unexciting.  This is, however, your chance to include your child in the adventure to whatever level you feel comfortable.  A younger child may not need that much encouragement, but a pre-teen or teenager will probably need some coaxing in order to get them on board.  Give them options whenever possible, for example, allow them to decorate their new room.  Also, encourage them to research your new home country and find things interesting to them personally, so that they can relate and get excited about things that matter.

Give Them Time

Every child is going to react to an international move in a different way, and if you don’t immediately get the response that you were hoping for or expected, do not pressure your child to hurry up and change their attitude.  People of all ages need time to warm up to the idea of relocating, and it can take even longer when the move requires international travel.  Allow them to come around in their own time, providing support and understanding as needed.

As previously stated, it is very important to remember that children of all ages are resilient.  Follow the suggested steps, and be as supportive as possible.  With time, you and your family, including your children, will be able to adapt and accept the idea of an international move.

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