Relocating overseas to a culture that you know little about can be daunting enough for an adult but it’s even more so for young children and teenagers. Kids can find it really difficult to move away from friends, family and familiar places to an unknown country and culture.
The good news is that psychologists and intercultural specialists believe that children often adjust more easily to a new environment than adults as they are more intensely involved in the life of the new society. School life, for example, provides a wonderful opportunity to make friends and therefore to integrate into the life of a new community.
All the same, it would be naïve to assume that children are mature enough to deal successfully with all the challenges of the host culture. Some of the most difficult issues for expatriate children are:
- Language barriers
- Different school system and education style and expectations
- New communication styles
- Leaving friends and making new ones
Undertaking an intercultural training course that gives young children and teenagers an understanding of the country they are relocating to can be immensely helpful. Explaining the customs and traditions or way of life as well as a few key expressions in the local language can make a big difference on their adjustment.
Intercultural training can help children of all ages adapt to their new school, new friends, new activities and new life abroad. Ensuring they have everything they need to make a smooth adjustment can help the family carry out their entire international assignment and save the organisation money. Studies show that one of the most common reasons for failed assignments is the family unhappiness or inability to settle in the new country.
In addressing these challenges and providing children with tools to deal with them, cross-cultural training courses for relocation such as Partner and Family Training and Support or specific language courses can prepare children to meet the challenges of a new environment. Giving them the support they need, can make the difference between them having a difficult time or thriving in the new culture.