Maybe you have been offered an amazing job, or perhaps you or your spouse would like to be close to relatives in another country. Or maybe you have always dreamed of experiencing a new culture and living in a different country.
No matter the reason, you have decided to pack up your family and head to a new life in a new country. In order to make this experience as easy as possible for your kiddos—which in turn will help ease your mind as well—heed the following advice:
Realize that each age group experiences different challenges
It’s important to realize that how old your kids are will greatly influence how they handle the move. Preschool-age kids will probably pick up the most in differences in body language in the new country, and they might be upset that their favorite shows are not on TV. Overall, however, younger kids will probably adapt the easiest.
School-age kids will worry about making new friends, especially if they are learning a new language, and teens will probably also struggle with anxiety about making friends, fitting in and if they will experience typical milestones like learning to drive at the same time as their friends back home.
Prepare as much as possible
In many cases, planning an international move will take some time; use this to your advantage to help prep your kids as much as possible. Depending on their ages, use maps, globes and books to locate and learn about your new city. Look up their new schools online and if you have a home picked out, show them your new neighborhood on Google Street View. Research where you will shop for groceries and find a local park on the map or through Google Earth.
Help them stay in touch with friends back home
One of the hardest things about moving is missing your friends. If your kids come to you crying because they are sad about leaving their best pals behind, reassure them that you understand how they are feeling, (you will miss your friends too!) and that you will help them stay in touch.
A great way to do this is to buy your kids a smartphone that they can use to reach friends and family back home. The Galaxy S7 Edge is a terrific option for kids—it has a really nice user-friendly camera that your kids can use to take photos of their new room and house and street and then send to their BFFs. My mum moved to Cyprus years ago and we have found sharing photos, videos and live video calls using a smart phone and tablets the best way of making us all still feel connected.
The phone can also be used for texting, video chatting and—if your kids are old enough to be on Facebook and other social media sites—posting photos and videos that their friends back home can enjoy. Another nice feature of the Galaxy S7 Edge is that it is water-resistant—this means your teen can accidentally spill his Italian soda on it, wipe it off and continue Skyping his buddies or Grandma.
Let them talk
One of the best ways to help encourage your toddlers, tweens and teens to adapt to the international move is to encourage them to share their feelings. Your kids may be angry, sad, confused or excited about the move—sometimes all in one day. Empathize with them and try not to minimize what they are telling you by saying “oh you’ll be fine.” Instead, reassure them that you understand and acknowledge what they are saying and that it’s okay to feel a variety of emotions.