Get Ready for Liftoff! – The 411 of Immigrating with Children
Have you ever found yourself wondering how it would feel to be told to move to another planet – overnight with just a few favorite things to take along Alternatively, how would you feel if you were given adequate time to train and plan before liftoff?
Clearly, the most effective way to begin a new journey is to have a strong mindset, sufficient time to plan, and to acquire all of the pertinent information you need.
This framework will undoubtedly help you, both emotionally and physically, as you begin your journey to the new planet.While humankind is not yet at a stage where we can live in an alternate universe, immigrating with children is certainly a fair comparison to the scenario described above. In fact, kids view immigration as if they are indeed moving to a new planet – which is completely normal and understandable.
Reflecting on our own move to Canada almost a year ago, for example, this is how our little boy felt, too. He was very anxious about the unknowns – would he make friends, could he bring his belongings, what will he eat when he got there. These are all legitimate and common concerns for children of all ages.
To help reduce your child’s fear and anxiety of moving to a new place, it is important to think about key pieces of advice you need to know before you take that leap of faith with your little passenger.
Here are things we, as parents/guardians, can do to make the journey to the new ‘planet’ more enjoyable.
Involve them from step one!
Yes, parents are usually apprehensive to think aloud in front of their kids, shielding them for disappointment if things don’t go the way we plan. But think otherwise. It is a learning experience, even for kids, to involve them in discussions involving huge life decisions. After all, it’s their lives that are changing, too. Also, if things don’t go as planned, at least they will know how hard you tried and how you handled any disappointment. What a valuable life lesson!
All hands on deck!
Immigrating to a new country surely comes with its brigade of paperwork, planning, and endless tasks. Everyone should be involved because, again, it’s everyone’s lives that will be changing. Through giving children their own tasks, no matter how small or big or how old they are, this will help to show them that even their smallest contribution helped you achieve a mammoth task. As they say, ‘teamwork makes the dream work!’
Naturally, we are creatures of habits and routines. Moving from your comfort zone and jumping into uncertain circumstances, however, is not something that comes naturally to us. Staying on a positive path during this time is imperative. Use positive self-affirmations help to mitigate the effects of stress. Use language to encourage happy thoughts, such as how you look forward to making new friends and colleagues, how people in this far off land are nice, kind, polite, helpful, etc. – which will go a very long way!
5 W’s and an H.
Kids love asking questions and they feel more at ease when their questions are answered. Talk to them with a simple and effective medium in information-gathering, which is the 5 W’s and H tool. Talk about the move with this framework to reduce anxiety – Where (are you going)? What (lies ahead)? Why (are we moving)? Who (will be there)? When (are we moving)? And How (do you feel about it)?
These are good conversation starters and will help you to understand how open and happy your child is (or isn’t) with the whole process.
As parents, we all understand that our utmost bliss is when our little humans are happy, healthy, and thriving. And, as renowned Maya Angelou once stated, “when you know better, you do better.”