Supporting Children in Transition
1. Keep them informed. Include them in the planning as early as possible, and give them access to information and input in the decision making, especially regarding housing and schools. Consider their opinions and requests carefully, and treat their views with respect.
2. Make new friends, but keep the old.. The sense of security that contact with their existing friends will give them is vital in the first few months in their new environment. Give them all the support and resources (and parental controls!) necessary for them to maintain friendships in their own way – whether by email, online gaming, texting or social networking.
3. Encourage them to socialize with new people from a range of settings – enroll in clubs, go to school functions, volunteer etc, and also socialize with other families with children in the same age range to give them the widest possible pool of potential buddies.
4. For the first few months, tailor your leisure time around activities that the children will enjoy. It fills time previously spent with friends, and helps to strengthen family ties. The more time you spend with your children, the more conversation you have, and the more likely you are to find out about problems or concerns that are affecting them.
5. Be patient. Cultural transition is hard for the whole family, especially the children, and it is common for it to take up to six months before you start feeling comfortable in your new environment, and even longer before you all feel established. Allow them room to experiment with their activities, their social group and their own identity, and, within reason, expect fluctuations in their grades and behavior. If you have concerns, speak to a teacher or counselor that they like and respect, and ask for their input, but most importantly, keep talking to them.
6. Spend time together laughing. Whether it be a movie, a water fight or a game of tag, do whatever it takes to keep laughter in your family life. It gets you through the rough patches, and teaches your children grace under pressure.