Relocation anxiety: how to soothe your kids’ worries about relocating.

Children perceive relocation differently

Many people assume that children, being young and adaptable, are more resilient to relocation than adults. This is not the case. In some children, feelings of relocation anxiety and sadness can be very strong- even in expat kids who have moved many times. Relocating with kids can be challenging but you can prepare for the top six worries that typically arise – making your child’s relocation smoother and easier for the whole family.

1) Not feeling prepared

In our mad dash to sort the new job, new house and new school, are we forgetting to prepare our kids? We need to ensure that we give them sufficient mental preparation and enough details about their new home. Because we are so close to every detail of the move, we can lose sight of the fact that our children are not so well-informed. Adequate preparation can help to allay these fears. Take time to explain all the details about the new country and your new job. Show your child photos of their house and read through the school brochure with them.

2) Fear that they will not make new friends

Expat children with relocation anxiety worry about having to make the effort to find new friends. You can reassure your child that other kids will want to hang out with him. If you kid has relocated several times, you can tell him that this experience has helped him to develop great communication skills.  Many expat kids are very adept at making new friends and establishing positive relationships. 

3) Worry about being the new kid at school

No child likes being the new kid – and expat children will experience this often. They can worry about other children disliking them, not knowing the school rules and eating unfamiliar food.  For some children, arranging a period of home-schooling in their new city, can help them slowly acclimatise to the new culture, before starting a new school. 

4) Fear of an unknown place

Children worry about a place that they are not familiar with. Reassure your child by giving him lots of information about their new destination, focusing on the positives – perhaps it is near a beach, has great cinemas, the opportunity to learn a new sport or to go sailing.   

5) Feelings of loss

Many children experience great loss and sadness. They may be anxious about leaving their friends, their girlfriend and their cosy home. You can tell your child that these feelings of loss are completely normal, especially in expat children who have moved many times, and reassure him that you understand that he will miss his friends and his old home.

6) Relocation anxiety about communication

Kids worry that no one will understand them, especially when relocating to a country with a new language. They become anxious that they might get lost and they won’t be able to explain themselves to anyone. You can prepare your child for this by organising language and culture lessons, before you move. Get your kids excited about experiencing a new culture and a new language.   

Preparing children, as much as possible, in advance of your move, can help to ensure a happy and successful relocation for the whole family.