A family moving abroad needs to stick together to make the process smooth.

Moving to a new country for an adult is a challenge, but towing a whole family along with you can multiply the challenges greatly. Although it tends to be easier for children to adapt to new environments, make new friends and learn new languages, it can still be challenging for them to adapt to a life abroad.

As parents it is crucial to listen to your children and try and make the process easier for them.

Think of the future

It is not uncommon for families to be relocated for a fixed period, usually up to three years. If you know you will only stay abroad for a certain amount of time, make sure you enroll your children in schools that know how to make transitions easy.

The International Baccalaureate programme is a popular option since the same education system is applied worldwide. Most classes are taught in English, so if you are already a native English speaker, adapting to the new school will be much easier for your children.

If English is not your child’s native language there are ESL classes in place for reinforcement. Either way, the International Baccalaureate programme favours language learning which will help your child integrate into the new culture of the country.

When you have to move back to your home country or to a new location, the transition will be easier and your children will already be bilingual.

Teach them to say goodbye

One of the most important thing for expat children to learn is to say goodbye and let go. Fortunately, our ever-evolving technological world allows us to keep in touch through social media regardless of how far away your are from your loved ones or best friends.

However, it is important to stress to your children that moving on is a part of life. If you enroll them in an international school, they will have to get used to seeing their friends come and go. It is important that they learn how to say goodbye and keep in touch with true friends.

Plan ahead

Preparation is key to a smooth relocation process. Start learning about the culture at least six months ahead of the move and give your child a head start by encouraging them to practice and learn the new language at a recommended language school.

The best way to prepare is to get your children excited about the move by learning about the country, checking out videos and photos of their new home.There is no better way to get a child on board than letting them dream and get excited about their new adventures to come.

Explain the cultural differences beforehand

If you come from a country like the US and find yourself living in Spain, you will probably face issues such as the non-existence of personal space or new ways of greeting each other involving kisses and hugs.

As an adult it’s easier to adapt to this and control your mixed emotions about these cultural norms. Children on the other hand can be taken by surprise by things they are not used to, and they are not renowned for biting their tongues. This can result in awkward scenarios where you become known as the parent of “the rude kid” just because they are unaware of the cultural differences. Take the time to explain this to your child; be open with them and let them know that you find it strange too but that you just have to accept it.

Think of yourself, too

Parents, especially the trailing spouse, will also have a hard time adjusting to their new surroundings, so don’t put everything aside just for your children; think of your well-being, too. After all, how can you be of any assistance to your emotional child if you’re a ticking time bomb yourself?

Give yourself the preparation and time to learn the language – this is especially important if you want to be involved in your children’s schooling should you choose a school taught in the language of the country. It is also important not to let a language barrier grow between you and your children.

Children younger than 7 learn languages in no time, while you might find yourself struggling to grasp the most basic phrases. If you prepare ahead of time, you and your children can avoid miscommunication.

Don’t forget home

Moving abroad is amazing learning experience; but don’t let your own culture slip away from you. At home be sure to celebrate your national holidays, cook food from home and practice your native language. It’s crucial that your children don’t forget where they come from, by keeping your culture alive your children won’t have to deal with culture shock all over again when it is time to return home.

Moving abroad is not easy but tackling obstacles as a family can make the process a great deal easier. Don’t run ahead and don’t leave anyone behind; this will make the transition and adaptation process smoother for everyone.

Have you moved abroad with your family? How did you prepare your children for the move?

[Image: gratisography]