To move to a foreign country when you are single is one big threat. To move abroad as a couple, is different, now, to move to a new country with kids is a whole different story.
Parenting is always challenging, parenting as an expat raises additional questions. Uncertainty about where you go to for advice. language in a country which does not speak your language is only one of the challenges. Finding someone who understands the added dimension of such topics in an expat setting can be overwhelming
Expat child Syndrome (ECS)is a term coined by psychologists, to describe an emotional stress, in children caused, by a move abroad.
The child’s age, developmental stage, makes the difference. This ECS is most commonly found in children between 10 and 15…that seems to be the worst moment for them to do this huge change. During this period, children under go significant emotional, and psychological changes. Youngsters will utilize their social circles as a mean of coping with these changes. Adolescence is a difficult period of a child lives now, when you remove them from their close circle of friends, they find even more difficult to deal with the mental and physical changes they are experiencing.
The Expat Child Syndrome has many different manifestations and, of course, impacts in some children more than others. Common symptoms include loneliness, withdrawn, or, sometimes, disruptive behavior. While some may adjust well and benefit from the experience, other may find it very difficult to fit into the new host country. These may develop difficulties and lead to a long-term issue with making friends and, fitting in with a social group.
If the host country is dramatically dissimilar than their home country the transition will be extremely difficult. The language and school environment are main issues in the process of adjusting to a new country. If kids can attend to an international school, they will be more likely to interact with children from a similar background and it will be easier.
On the other hand, going to an international school will make it harder to contact with local people and learn the local language…so here I consider extremely important to take in account the child age. Under 8. I would recommend a local school. Children learn the language very quickly at that age. From 8-10 it varies a lot from kid to kid, over 10 I highly recommend an international school.
ECS in more likely to occur in children who are relocating more than once. They may become frustrated at having to more countries again having worked hard and established new social circles.
As you might have noticed moving to a new country is not for everyone..So,if you are being relocated or, you are choosing to move to an other country with children , take these in account ,be aware of the impact the moving process has on kids. it may help you get the best out of the enriching experience of living abroad!
Let me know what you think!!! I look forward to hearing your feedback!
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