Any parent of a tween or teen will know things change when the hormones kick in at puberty. If you throw an international move into the mix it does not make it easier. We may talk using words, but our looks, gestures and actions and even our silences all convey messages to our children.
At the end of the day, you know your child better than anyone, and you are best placed to help him/her. Below are some pointers to guide you on your way.
These tips are especially useful if you lead a mobile lifestyle, as having meaningful chats with your child during times of transition will help deepen your relationship, meaning you’ll both feel stronger.
1. Listen more than you talk
As philosopher Epictetus once said, "We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak."
2. Empathize with the child and his/her message.
Avoid giving instant solutions to your child. Advice can come later, when/if they ask for it.
3. Show acceptance
Clearly communicate acceptance of the child and what they are trying to say.
4. Talk with your child, rather than at him/her
Facilitate a two-way conversation, rather than giving a lecture. Children of all ages want to be understood, not preached to. They are also far more likely to take your advice on board if they have felt included in the conversation.
5. Request, don’t demand
Requests are best made in a simple, positive, one- or two-step process. Do not demand, ask kindly and with respect.
6. Treat your child as an equal
Communicate with your children at eye level, rather than from above. Take a seat together, or crouch down with young ones. This way the communication is both less threatening and more supportive. Going for a ride in the car together can work wonders!
7. Discuss change openly
If you are raising children who are growing up outside of their parents’ home culture(s) make sure you discuss each move with your child and prepare them for it.
It’s also crucial to remind your teen that friendship and love are never gone; their loved ones from a previous country or school are always there. Your teen can still communicate via email, Skype, telephone. Encourage him/her to take advantage of online technology.
.. and never forget... you lead by example!