A move abroad comes with plenty of exciting possibilities – an opportunity for change or a chance to grow in new areas. You might be excited about the move, it may come with a better-paying job, an improved lifestyle and the potential to make a fresh start.
You might even be thinking about settling abroad permanently and are checking how to make this happen by looking at all the details such as how to fill an indefinite leave to remain form. However, your teen might not be too enthusiastic about the idea! Moving house as an adolescent is a huge deal as they will have to give up one of the things that is most important to them, namely their friends. Moving country is an even bigger deal with the culture shock that is bound to occur, but here are some ways to help them cope.
Give them Enough Time to Prepare
Teens are often just as excited about the possibility of overseas travel and adventure as their parents. They may look forward to learning a new language, experiencing traditions different to their own, or living in a more exciting place than their home country.
However, as teens may also feel anxious about leaving friends behind or starting a new life, they’ll be wondering whether they’ll make friends quickly. They don’t know whether they will love the new place, find exciting activities or enjoy the school they’ll attending. Don’t tell them about the move at the last minute, hoping to spare them the anguish but rather give them enough time to digest the news and prepare.
Address Their Concerns
Understand that children have valid issues, and the sooner you address the concerns, the faster they will move towards acceptance. Assure them that you’ll make every effort to help them settle and try to make their life as exciting as possible overseas.
Talk about the things you’ve learned overseas and why you feel it’s a good idea to move to the new location. When you share your excitement, it might quickly rub off on them, making the transition easier.
Involve Them in Making the Plans
Understand that teens don’t like getting treated like young children and appreciate it when you involve them in critical decisions. Let them know you value their input and that you trust them to make sound choices.
Letting your teen help with the overseas move will likely boost their confidence in making important decisions as they grow up. You’ll also make sure you make decisions that everyone supports. This includes the neighbourhood, schools they will attend and the home you’ll live in overseas.
Teens value being heard and involved in discussions that directly impact them, so let them know that you are open to their suggestions.
Let Them Choose What They Pack
Research has show that moving a teen to a new location can be detrimental to their mental health so allow them as much control as possible in the process. Let your teen pack their bags, they have a better idea of what is valuable to themselves than you do. If you allow them to make this decision, they’ll feel more involved in the whole process and might not protest as much. The transition will also be smoother when they choose what they want to take with them.
Respect Their Privacy
Your teen might need some time alone to adjust to a new environment, make new friends and explore the new life. Give them space and privacy by not barging into their room or following them around. Let them know you trust them.
However, sometimes your teens need a listening ear so let the child know you’re available, that you love them, and they can come to you with any questions or concerns. Be sympathetic and understanding when they get upset about the move and help them transition.
Additionally, encourage them to keep in contact with their old friends. Also, offer new activities and distractions. Arrange for them to take up a hobby or enrol in school programs that excite them. This new interest will help keep their focus off the fact that they’re in a new environment.
There’s no question this is a difficult time in their lives to make big adjustments so be prepared to support them in the journey.