As many families make the shift from expat life back to their home country, every parent wants to ensure their child is as emotionally prepared for this life change. Knowing how to present a major move to little ones can be challenging, but thankfully there are strategies and tools you can use to help...
Dr Sarah Rasmi, licensed psychologist and founder of Thrive Wellbeing Centre, shares some tips for navigating a conversation about moving with your child:
1. Be upfront with your children about the move - don't try to sugar coat it. Use simple, clear language that is appropriate for their age.
2. Focus on the positive aspect of the move - whether you're going back 'home' or on to a new adventure
3. Remember it's very common for children to feel upset about a move - give your child some time to process the information
4. Acknowledge and validate their feelings. A simple, 'I can see that you're sad - it can be tough to leave our friends behind' shows your child that you understand and empathise with what they're going through. They will be more amenable to this than to you trying to sweep their feelings under the rug (ie, 'Oh, don't worry, you'll make new friends - you won't even remember John and Salma next year!')
5. Talk to them, but more importantly, LISTEN, to them.
6. When they're ready to problem-solve, you can figure out a plan for staying in touch with their nearest and dearest.
7. Organise some special keepsakes for them to take to their new home.
8. Involve them in the move, by showing them pictures of their new neighbourhood, house, and/or school.
9. Decorate their new room with familiar favourites, along with their keepsakes. Allow them to buy something new for their room as well, and let them pick it out
10. If you are leaving one parent behind, make sure the child gets plenty of one-on-one time with that parent in the lead up to the move. Stay connected regularly once the child has left the UAE. While this can be tricky with timezone differences, sending each other audionotes before/after school and throughout the day gives everyone something to