Even as a serial expat, I will not become ‘the lonely cheese’. I will surround myself with other people so we can continue to move through life and enjoy each day. As I lean in to clean the refrigerator a random or isolated slice of individual wrapped cheese sits in the fruit and vegetable crisper. The cheese stands alone.If you have a special version of this childhood song please let me know.
Moving somewhere new is never easy, and for a child it can be downright daunting. Starting a new school and having to make new friends is a big task. You can help greatly with this process by instilling a sense of confidence and self-worth into your child even before you make the big move.
Why don’t you use some of your free time this summer working on this!
Attachment parenting is one key way to make confidence-building in your children.
Babies are very resilient and it is never too late to start building up your child’s self-image. Getting to know your child and seeing things from his/her point of view will help him or her learn to trust in themselves. Having close connections help us feel like we matter.
There are psychological challenges involved in all moves. One key psychological issue in all expat or people who move around is the need to belong or have loyalty to their tribe. After we cover Maslow’s hierarchy of food, water, shelter, safety and security – after all our basic needs are met we need to belong. We need to connect. We need to belong to a family, a community, a unit, a race of people, a tribe, a great school, a good job or something. If we feel connected, we are happy and fulfilled.
There are also lots of tips to help parents understand this part of their child’s life. As an expert on Family Transitions, I have seen thousands of families move around the world. I have also been doing this global nomad style with my own two kids for a long time. Try these suggestions on ways to cope with any transition:
1. Take an honest look at yourself. What are your strengths, weaknesses, skills? How did those influence “positively or negatively” your transition? What is each child’s strengths? How can they use these strengths to make the new situation better?
2. Step up your self-care. Major changes are physically and emotionally taxing. You need self-care now more than ever. Children need more sleep and good food. Forget the junk food and the late nights, try to get into a routine as close as their old routine so they feel comfortable.
3. Focus on what you want, and less on what you don’t want. Keep your eye on the prize. This is every important because it helps form the words out of our mouths. If you keep talking about what you don’t want your children will just focus on that. (Remember your kids only hear about half of what you actually say so why are you saying negative things?) Focus on what you want.
4. Work on your thoughts. Calm your fears and reinforce your sense of hope and happiness. Be honest about your feelings and fears because children hate it when their parents lie to them. So be honest but focus on the reason you choose this type of lifestyle..
5. Create your own rite of passage. Ceremony and ritual help with all transitions. The more family rituals you have the stronger your family bonds will be and the stronger your children will be with coping skills that will help them lifelong.
We really do need to put family first in any move. I often think as parents we need to rethink things as our children get older, but we also need to revisit things. Many of the things that work and were good parent advice for your toddler works well for your child as he or she heads off to college. You want them to trust in themselves.
As with most parenting concerns, if we start with ourselves we can help our children better. Try to improve your own self-confidence. In caring for your child, you can often heal yourself. Look closely at your own life.
Notes: Some family therapists ask clients to do this activity. It is called “passing on the best, and discarding the rest”
List the specific things your parents did to build your self-image.
List the specific things your parents did to weaken your self-image.
Now resolve to emulate the good things your parents did and avoid the rest.
If you find it difficult to follow through with this exercise on your own, get help from a professional. Both you and your child will benefit.
I wish you the best – where ever this summer finds you on your path to a new adventure.