Kids moving and living across cultures, countries and continents have some pretty impressive opportunities. They learn to adapt, interact and work effectively in a wide range of situations. They have unique insight into the world and learn to question, develop creative solutions and communicate in a variety of styles, with far greater understanding. Moving allows for tremendous personal and emotional growth. Remember, emotional baggage can take up as much weight and room as physical baggage. The feelings that you all are experiencing will affect your attitude, behavior and success in your new environment, so it’s important to give them the same time, importance and respect that you give to the more quantifiable components of the move. However, your child may find it difficult to adjust to his or her new home abroad. Here are some ways to help your child cope up.

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  1. Let your kid say “good” goodbyes. It’s critical to acknowledge that your relationship with those you are leaving is about to change. Say goodbye in person, in a call or in card, but treat it with the care and respect that you view the person you are saying goodbye to. In a world of Skype, email and social media, it’s tempting to make goodbyes casual. Resist the temptation!
  2. Have a family connection in place. One of the common themes running through advice from everyone from teachers, and school counselors to young adult mentors and psychologists is the need for family communication to be in place.
  3. Let your kid accept the emotions change and that process takes time. Tell your child that even though it is unpredictable, he or she should still try and prepare for it. Give space, time, and support to your kid.
  4. Tell your kid that everyone goes through the process but in a slightly different time and in a slightly different way. The best way to deal with emotional stress due to living abroad is to keep on talking about your kid’s activities in school or has he made any friends in school, etc.
  5. Always remind your kid to inform you if he or she thinks something is wrong. Advise your kid that he or she should inform you when he or she is not feeling well, when he or she hasn’t made any friends yet, and when eating, sleeping, drinking and socialising patterns have changed. You should observe if your kid has become more agitated or withdrawn or when your kid’s behaviour regresses.
  6. Encourage your kid to make new friends in school. Let your kid find someone to talk to who understands what he or she is going through. Let your kid attend newcomer meetings in school if there is any. Talking to a neutral but friendly person will help your child gain some new perspective that life abroad isn’t as bad as he or she thought. Other expat-kids will surely understand your child’s situation.
  7. Tell your kid to “get out there”. Let your kid connect with things he or she has done back home such as playing sports, enrolling in different classes, and many more.
  8. Play “Your Move” with your kid. This conversation-stimulating card game helps families with children ages 6-18, and those that work with them, talk about and plan for their move. It uses key prompts and insights such as “Who in your family, do you think was most excited about moving?” This game can help your family talk about the ups and downs of moving abroad.

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  9. Place a calendar on your kid’s room. The calendar should be a sticker-based calendar for 3 – 10 year olds that answers each ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ of moving, using entertaining and easily understood moving-related pictures. Also provides a great visual memento of your child’s move.
  10. Give your kid an journal where he or she can write down his experiences living abroad. This fun keepsake journal guides young children ages 3 – 7 through relocation to a new neighborhood, school and home. You can add your own pictures to create the a truly personal record of the move.
  11. During your first few weeks, explore the place like a tourist. After doing so, you can then be an expat. Go to the tourist destinations with your kid to get a feel of the country’s culture and history. Let your kid feel that it’s just like a vacation. Then, you can begin living like an expat.
  12. Let your kid send gifts back home to your family and friends. Consider giving gifts from your new country and sending them back home. This will give your days a fun purpose. Also, it will keep you connected to those who are important to you.
  13. Invite your family or your kid’s friends to come visit. There’s nothing wrong with trying to convince some friends to come visit. See if any of your friends can come for a short vacation and get to know the country you’re now living in.
  14. Help your kid make a bucket list for exploring the place. Do some research about where you’re living and find new places to explore with your kid.
  15. Go out for a jog with your kid regularly. Jogging helps release feel-good hormones. This will help combat your kid’s emotional stress.
  16. Encourage your kid to schedule some “me” time. 30 minutes of pure alone time in a calming environment can greatly help your kid to focus and meditate. Your kid can do this in an empty room in the house.
  17. Let your kid learn something new. Learning can help your kid keep his or her mind active. Aside from that, he or she will slowly forget about missing his old home.
  18. Tell your kid to work on positive thinking. Homesickness, like most anxiety, is prone to negative thinking, such as “I feel like I stand out here.” Let your kid learn how to think positively. Your kid should write only positive thoughts in something like a journal, and look for ways to spin the negative thoughts, such as “I am going to find new ways to make sure I feel like I fit in.”

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