Bringing your children up in a new culture – how to help them settle overseas

So once again, it is time for us to pack up and leave the life we’ve built out here in Dubai. Except this time, instead of leaving with just a 6 month old who is easily transportable, and to be honest doesn’t really have much of a memory or need too much settling other than Mummy or Daddy around. This time around we are moving with a three and a half year old, and a ten month old. Memories have been made. Friendships have been made that I’m tearing apart. This time round there is more than just me and the Husband to consider. This time the Big One knows what’s going on and is very vocal about it. With that in mind I spoke with Currency UK to get another perspective on how we can help the boys settle with our new big move.

 

Bringing your children up in a new culture – how to help them settle

Moving your children across the world can be quite a stressful time. There are plenty of resources helping you to organise your move, how to settle yourself, but something that tends to be overlooked is how to help your child settle. It can be quite daunting so here are some tips to help make the move as comfortable and easy as possible, for everyone.

Bring your positivity!

Your approach to your new lifestyle and the changes you have recently made will be influential to your child. Children pick up on things we don’t even notice we say or do so be very aware of your actions. Make sure you display positivity at all opportunities, turning experiences and emotions into a positive or an adventure will help your child adopt a similar attitude, finding a silver-lining with anything they find challenging meaning they enjoy the new exciting experiences.

It will be very difficult to keep control of your positivity as you often won’t even realise you’ve said certain things! If you’re struggling with the move yourself it can be very difficult to keep a lid on negativity. Try and reduce your stress levels by using these tips to help you relax during the move. The more settled and comfortable you are, the easier you will find it to be positive for your child.

Make sure your child is getting a good night’s sleep

You may not even consider how well your child is sleeping but the more sleep your child gets the less stressed and emotional they will be. This means they will be more receptive to experiencing new things.

Having said that, getting a good night’s sleep may be rather challenging in the first week or so for your child. They may be unsettled or experiencing distress so it’s best to do everything you can to help comfort your child.

sleeping 3 year old

If this comes from their home comforts, decorating their room first and making sure it resembles what they know is an important one. Putting up pictures and having their favourite toys will be a good way to help your child settle. Familiar smells are also good so ensuring they have their favourite bedding on and trying to use a familiar washing powder will help.
The more sleep the child gets, the less stressed and emotional they will be during the day.

Bring your traditions with you

Moving abroad doesn’t mean you need to forget your family traditions. Bringing them with you will help to keep your family content. Obviously, you just need to make sure you fit the traditions around your new lifestyle rather than doing them in the order you used to as, with the changes, this may not work. Ensuring everybody is involved is important so whether you need to wait for someone to come home from work or for certain shops (for example) to open; adjust your tradition to work in your new culture. Taking your traditions and rituals with you will help reduce your children’s likeliness to suffer from homesickness as it adds comfort and is a known experience for them.

Use familiar activities in your new culture

Let your children do things they are used to. It may be that your new culture has the similar or the exact same, activities and adventures available. Either way this will help your child notice that fun can be had wherever they are in the world and that the new culture isn’t completely alien. For example, if you used to visit the zoo together a lot, why not take them to your local zoo in your new location?

The great thing about having familiar activities is that you can alternate with new activities, new sites and places to visit. If everything you do oozes fun, your children will be more open to trying things out.

Settling into School

Getting your child into a new school in your new culture will help you settle back into a routine, something which will help you distract your child and help them feel like they are entering back into normal life. Try and choose a school in advance of the move so you can get your child into a routine as soon as possible. This will help them to move onto their new life rather than pine after the old.

If you can, take your child to view the school before they start there as a full-time student, this will help them to be more familiar with the school and environment when it comes to their first school day. If you can’t take your child to visit the school, let them browse the school’s website or school’s social media to, again, help them to familiarise themselves with the new environment.

Trying new things

Encouraging your child to try new things, whether it’s a new group, a new food or a new language, will help them to create a bond with their new culture. However, make sure you are only encouraging your child to do so rather than pressurising them as too much pressure may in fact have the opposite effect to the desired bond you hoped for. Encouragement and slow progress is better to ensure your child creates a favourable and positive bond.

Let your child keep in touch

Letting your child keep in touch with family and friends will help them to understand that the world hasn’t completely changed. They can still speak to the people they hold dear. It’s healthy for them to have a relationship with their ‘old’ life so don’t completely disconnect them. One important thing to remember thought is to not let them overload on the contact. This would stop them from experiencing their new culture and could have a negative impact on them settling.

The old time saying Patience is a Virtue is important to remember. Your child will settle their own speed but implementing some of these tips in the post will help to ensure it is a smooth transition to their new culture.

this is a guest post

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2 Comments

  1. March 16, 2016 / 12:07 pm

    Thank you for the helpful tips an ideas. It is very difficult for children to settle and the first few weeks they definitely need some special attention. Me and my family have moved form Nevada to England and it is quite hard for for everybody of us to adjust. Thanks for the tips!

    • March 18, 2016 / 7:48 pm

      No problem! How are you finding the UK after Nevada? I’m excited about moving back but nervous as well!

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