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By Allianz Worldwide Care | September 07, 2016
Moving abroad with children is a challenge, however, with careful planning and preparation, moving abroad can also be one the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences a child can have.
When preparing children for a move overseas it is important to remember that age matters, older children may find the prospect of moving more daunting than younger children, as they will have a wider social circle and have developed strong bonds outside the immediate family.
Regardless of age there are some preparations would be expat parents can make to help ensure the move is a success.
Make your children part of the decision making process
Tell your children sooner rather than later that they will be moving abroad, explain to them what is happening and why the family are moving. Make them feel involved at this stage by being a contributor to the decision to move.
Your children will have lots of questions, answer them honestly with as much information as you can provide. Naturally they will raise concerns, but by allowing them to have an input on decisions such as what you will bring with you and what will be left behind, accommodation options and schools, they will have helped in the decision and know that their opinion is valued.
Explore your new home
Encourage your children to learn about their new home and get them excited about the new opportunities that they will have there.
Use the internet, DVDs and books to help your children understand what they can expect when they get to their new home. Reassure them that some things will be just like home, while others will be new exciting adventures.
If there are significant cultural or weather differences between your current home and your destination, discuss these with your children. Buy some foods from your new home and prepare a meal together with your children.
If there are new sports and activities at your destination which are unavailable at your current home, share these with your children to help give them something to look forward to and familiarise themselves with the destination.
Help children acquire a new language
Expats families may face a lingual barrier at first when moving overseas, especially for those children that are not attending schools yet, which could vary from 1 to 5 years of age.
How can parents help integrate their children into the new society?
Parents are recommended to join local play groups, mothers & toddlers meetings or even enrol their children to a Montessori or pre-school. These are great opportunities for parents to get to know other parents and expand their network, which may lead to their child getting play dates with local children, and developing a new language by the time they go to primary school.
Create a home from home
In the initial stages, familiarity will be very important to your children when you reach your destination.
To help them feel settled and at home it is essential that you bring favourite items and toys, even if it would be less expensive to purchase them again when you get there.
Don’t do the packing for your children, involve them in the process and let them have an input on what they will bring and what will get left behind.
Children will feel they are leaving a lot behind, both possessions and relationships. Recreate as much of ‘home’ in your new destination as possible. Ensure that they understand they can speak with friends and extended family members via Skype, telephone, email and social media regularly, and they will not be forgotten.
Help your children say goodbye
Perhaps the greatest concern your children will express will be leaving friends and family behind.
Although this will be a difficult process, it is important not to avoid the subject, discuss it openly and honestly with your children and try to assuage their concerns.
A proper goodbye can make the transition to beginning life in a new country much easier. Hold a party for your children’s friends and extended family, help them to prepare gifts to give to their friends as mementos, such as photos.
Reassure your children that this is not an end, but the beginning of a rewarding new adventure.
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