When adjusting to a new culture, expat kids will likely undergo a frustration phase. This can be a worrying time for parents but we have some reassuring words.
Strap in, hold tight!
The good news is that the ‘frustration phase’ for kids is typically short. However, it’s also often the most alarming phase for parents. Kids can make their frustration very clear. That could come in the form of whines, eye rolls or sarcastic retorts. Your kids might even tell you they think everything in this place is stupid.
A delicate balance
During this phase, parents can start to feel guilty. Some might even question the decision to move abroad. But this isn’t a time to panic. Although neither should you think ‘well, it’s just a phase’ . What’s needed is a delicate balance of compassion and positive action.
A sense of belonging
Start by trying to connect your kids with the community and find fun spaces where they can begin to interact with others. Research all of the options depending on their passions (sports, arts / crafts, music, nature). Let them choose what they’d like to explore first.
Off to school
While it’s true that many kids will find friends and activities through their school, at first, they might hate it. New teachers, new systems, a different style of homework, or lunches they don’t want to eat. That can all be overwhelming for them. If that’s the case with your kids, find ways to blow off some steam after school or on weekends. Take a long walk or a cycle around the neighbourhood; enjoy a shopping excursion and lunch / dinner at a restaurant; or jump in the car and take a day trip.
When you have a positive experience together, don’t despair if some negative attitudes resurface. The frustration phase doesn’t disappear overnight. If it’s two steps forward and one step back, they’re still going in the right direction.
Turning a corner
Once children learn how things are done in the new country, make some quality friends, and find places where they feel comfortable, rest assured they will rebuild their self-confidence and become more receptive to the new. Lastly, during this challenging phase of adjustment for your children, don’t forget to get all the self-care you need, for example, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep and regular exercise, and finding your own joyful spaces.
This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.