There’s a lot being written in the psychological literature these days about resiliency. This refers to our ability to bounce back from adversity and is thought to be a key ingredient in overall mental and emotional health.
As a psychotherapist and coach who works primarily with expat families and children, I would like to weigh in on the matter of resiliency and expat kids.
Many expat parents feel guilty for having to move their children around, uprooting them from friends and community, and sometime having to move them to a new school at crucial times.
I have found time and again, that while these experiences definitely feel painful for both parents and children at the time, children in general have an amazing “bounce back” quotient, and expat children in particular, are better able to bounce back from adversity than their stay-in-one-school peers.
Most expat children tendto make friends more easily than their peers. They have more experience doing so and become adept at it. They are also frequently at international schools where many children move frequently, so it is the norm to come to a new school rather than the exception.
However, even for expat kids who have a more difficult time adapting, while it may be a challenge for them at first, they soon adjust to a new environment with the help of international school staff and other students who have also moved around frequently.
Even if it takes the better part of a year for these children to adjust and feel at home, usually after the adjustment period they do just fine.
These experiences have helped expat children to become more resilient, which will serve them well in their adult lives, no matter what they do.
So, if you’re an expat parent, who is transferred every 2 or 3 years and tends to worry or feel guilty about what effect this is having on your children, I would suggest you take a deep breath and relax. Your children will benefit in the long run.
As one expat parent reported to me, when her child was asked by another where he was moving to, he said simply, “Oh some embassy somewhere!” The particulars really weren’t of much concern to him.
If you’d like to book a free 30-minute consult with Dhyan Summers, visit www.expatcounselingandcoaching.com.
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