How to Help Your Child Adjust to an International Move

When families move abroad, children will have many questions about moving internationally. How will I make new friends? What kinds of food will I eat? What is my new school like? What do people do there? Will I be bored?

A child's issues with moving will vary with their age. For example, babies and toddlers obviously won't be as worrisome about leaving their friends, but may be attached to their home or room - since it is the only environment that they are familiar with. Teenagers, on the other hand, might be devastated by moving as they are separated from their school and friends.

It's time to talk.
There are many ways to deal with this new life change, but the most important one is that parents need tell their children about the move as early as possible - in order to both process and accept this move. Talking with your kids also opens up the forum to ask questions and address any concerns that they may have about moving internationally. 

Consider their feelings.
Of course your primary concern is the well-being of your children, but oftentimes their feelings are overlooked during the difficult moving process. Think about it: you're lining up international movers, filing out paperwork, finding a storage facility, and trying to stay on top of packing. With all of these challenges, it can be easy to overlook how the kids are feeling. Check in with them and assign them jobs during this process. Something as simple as asking them to label boxes will make them a part of the moving process. This can help re-direct their anxiety as well as help with the many tasks involved with your international move.

Give them the details.
When moving abroad, give your kids credit - they are pretty smart and can handle a lot as long as you are honest with them. Older kids will especially want to know more about the details of the move, even if they can't make the same decisions that you can. Give them as much details as possible to let them know about their new area, new home and new school. Give them "an assignment" where they research their new area and make a scrapbook of what they can do in their new city.

Think about connections.
Children and their social environment make up a huge part of their world. Consider looking into groups and clubs and maybe even finding a sponsor in your new country. This support group of other international families allows kids (and you) to connect with other expat families where you can learn more about the area. A lot of these groups form online, so through your research look into one in your new country. That way when you arrive, you can have a network of families to meet with as well as someone your kids can explore their new country with.    

Moving internationally is a huge challenge in itself, but adding in children and their confusion and uneasiness about moving can make this experience seem daunting. However, it is important to remember that kids are very adaptable and have an ease with meeting people and learning languages - even faster than adults. The most important thing to remember is to give them enough time to process the move and talk about your new country and the exciting experiences that await them. It won't be long before they're settled  in and loving their new international home.