We all know that kids have feelings too, and when it comes to a corporate relocation, unless they are babes, their world is going to be shaken up a bit. The parents’ role in transitioning their children to a new environment is critical, and begins before the move. What follows are TRC’s six suggestions for smoothing out the often bumpy road of a family transfer.
1. Schedule a goodbye party in your old home, so the children have a chance to say farewell while having fun. Take lots of pictures, which will go into a memory book for your children to refer to when they are missing home. If the children can write, this is the place for their friends to wish them good luck.
2. According to a survey from ACS International Schools of London and Qatar, 60 percent of their students say the ability to keep in touch with old family and friends was the main factor in helping them settle into a new home and school. Social media and Skype have made it easy for these connections to be made, whether the family has moved a few hundred or many thousands of miles away. The survey found that keeping in touch with old friends instills confidence in the child to make new friends.
3. David Pollock, author of “Third Culture Children,” says it takes six months to pack up your heart and six months to unpack it. Unfortunately, in most corporate relocations, the family is not given six months to move. But as soon as you can, start talking about what is about to happen and even more importantly, listen to their feelings. Moving can unleash powerful feelings, and in most cases, it is best if these feelings can be shared, not suppressed. It’s also important to understand that many of these feelings may not be positive. You should not try to impose your own feelings onto your child.
4. Chances are good that an extroverted child will adjust better and adapt better to change. For introverts, the process of transitioning can take longer, because the child is probably shy and cautious. A move is the perfect opportunity to talk to your children about personality differences; how it is something they are born with, but something they can control. Teach them the value of taking a deep breath to center themselves when they are in a new environment, and suggest that they seek out a child who is also alone, and start talking to him or her. This one trick could be the beginning of a great friendship. For more suggestions on helping introverted children thrive, check out this article on www.Parents.com.
5. In most moves, adults make all the choices. Instead, consider leaving some of the decisions up to your children. In our last blog we talked about including your children in deciding what would be included in their ideal school. If they will have their own bedrooms, let them choose the room they like best. If they do not wear school uniforms, let them choose what they will wear to school and what they will bring for lunch. They can also decide their extra-curricular activities.
6. Bring the family traditions you had in your old environment into your new home. It might be something as simple as getting take-out every Friday night, worshipping together one day a week, or playing a game of kickball in the backyard. Consistency is key.