Sunday, August 31, 2014

How important is attitude for an Expat?

My question today - after yesterday's post - is being an expat all about attitude? If so, does this have an immense influence on expat children and how they perceive their situation in this new environment?

1. Attitude
Your attitude as the adult and parent is going to greatly influence how your children settle in the country and accept the move.

We can decide whether to be positive or negative about becoming expats.  The more positive parent results in a well adjusted child who looks at the glass half full, finds the positive in every situation and tries to adjust as much as you do.

2. Being Open minded:
In every case of becoming an expat, the circumstances you are going to experience are different.  If you have not been brought up in the culture it is going to be an adjustment.  Parents need to be open minded and to allow their children to do the same.

3. The right School
We can easily make the wrong school choice for our children (even in our own countries), but when moving to a culturally different country this could be what either develops your child into having a positive attitude or not.

Let your child go to a school that will suite his/her personality.  Will they develop better in a smaller, bigger, sporty or academic school, what is the vision of the school for the students, check and double check if your child will suite the style of the school.

4.  Immerse your family in the language, culture and religion
Try to learn the new language, immerse this in the culture, religion and history of the country, go to museums, take tours and do a bit of what the locals would do and participate in some of the festivals.  Make it fun, tell them stories about the culture and history, and make it educational at the same time.  Imagine the stories your children will be able to tell their friends back at home of their adventures.

5. Be Encouraging
Encourage your child to take part in different activities.  Let them learn that they can overcome any challenge thrown their way, encourage and support them with whatever decisions they make.  They are likely to develop a belief that they can achieve anything in life, as long as they are positive and set their minds to it.  They will learn to embrace challenges head on, rather than being too afraid and shying away from these situations.

6. Flexibility and stability
Be flexible in your daily life and know that life is not to be taken too seriously, focus on opportunities to have fun and learn in the process.  Your children will take a page from your book and learn to be flexible in their own lives.  There is always somewhere new to go and people to meet.  It is an adventure, so take advantage of the opportunity.  At the same time you need to maintain a stable relationship and environment for your children because one of the most difficult things for the expat child is building long-lasting friendships and not seeing the home they are living in as home.

7. Communicating with others
Remember the way you interact with people as an expat will determine how your child will interact and accept people from different backgrounds.  As an expat you are going to encounter, not only the new local culture and people, but people from all walks of life, from countries they may never have heard of.  Your children need to be encouraged to be unprejudiced towards different cultures.

8. Communicating with your children
It is so important to constantly communicate with your children.  Did you involve them in the decision to relocate? It is important to consider your child's opinions and constantly talk to them about how they are feeling.  Listen to your children, really listen!

9. Personality, age and attachment types
Your child's personality, age and how they attach themselves to you is also going to determine how well they settle. Get your kids to focus on what they are experiencing right now and not on the things they are missing out on at home.  If they are feeling depressed, get busy and have fun!

10. Family traditions, original culture and language
It is important to keep your countries traditions going within the family, remember everyone at home is growing up with those traditions and if you are going back to live, keep those traditions alive within your own family. It also helps to create new family traditions while maintaining your own value system.

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