A relocation to another country represents a challenging step for the whole family, and especially for your children. Leaving home, leaving town, leaving friends, leaving comforts for the unknown may be really scary for children, especially if they aren’t in control of anything and they feel like they’re undergoing this change. But, you can make it easier for them, for example by making them active participants in the preparations for the move.
Ask them their opinion about things that directly concern them, like how to fit out their room, which wallpaper to choose, where to put the bed, what decorations they want… You can make them see all the good sides of having a new house: “We’re going to have a bigger garden!” or “You’ll have your own room!” if it is the case. Making them participate with the packing and with the details of the move will also make the experience more exciting for the children.
If they were practicing a sport or an activity in your last place, assure them that they can continue in the new place, it can help making friends. Before leaving, try to visit your new city or country, at least virtually, by going on the internet with your children, so that they know where they’re going to live, and what to expect. You can pinpoint the positive aspects of your future city or country: the weather, the activities, all that you don’t have in your current city or country.
It is also really important for relocating kids to have memories from their former life, so make sure to keep pictures of the house and of the friends. If it is possible, you can promise them that you will visit your old city or country from time to time. If they know that they can keep ties with that place, it will be easier to come to terms with the change.
Moreover, if you are feeling stressed because of the relocation, you can be sure that your kids will feel it. Try to be as relaxed as you can around them, and set them an example. When you arrive, meet the neighbours, and invite them to dinner, especially if they have children the same age as yours.
Don’t hesitate to get help from the other adults in your children’s lives: the school teacher, the daycare educator, and the grandparents can all help you prepare your children for the change and help them accept it.
Finally, the most important thing is that your children see the relocation as an exciting adventure, where they are the principal actors, with a lot to discover, a lot of new friends to make, and a lot to tell to the old ones!
FURTHER READING: To learn more about the issues faced by families moving to Canada with children, check out some of the following articles.
And remember, our Online Relocation Guides are loaded with valuable information for families and children moving to Canada.