Whether you’re moving across the state or halfway around the world, your children will be forced to adjust to new routines, unfamiliar surroundings and possibly even new languages and cultures. They’ll also face the daunting task of making new friends at school. Here’s how parents can help.
1. Keep in Touch
Emails, phone calls, texts, and video chats make it possible for your children (and you) to keep in contact with friends and family after you move. Encourage their long-distance relationships at an age-appropriate level. Feeling connected to old friends helps children have the confidence to make new friends in their new home.
2. Sign Up for Extracurricular Activities
Shared passions offer a natural basis for building friendships and also increase your child’s confidence in themselves as they grow in skill. Look for activities similar to those your children are currently enrolled in so they don’t feel like they are missing out.
3. Put Digital Tools to Work
Most cities and neighborhoods have social media pages for locals. They are a gold mine for finding families with similar-age children who live nearby or go to the schools your children will attend. If age appropriate and parent-approved, supervised video chats can allow the children to meet and talk. A friendly face or two will go along way toward helping your children during those first anxious days.
4. Model a Positive Attitude
Children look to adults and parents to learn socially acceptable behaviors. Use your actions and words to put a positive spin on the move. Talk to your children about how to be a good friend and let them see you putting effort into your relationships.
5. Role Play Intros with New Friends
Not knowing what to say can make starting a conversation intimidating. At home, practice typical questions, and work with them to develop answers. If moving abroad, learn common questions (such as “What’s your name?” or “What do you like to do?”) in the language of your new country.
6. Be supportive
Be available for questions, and be encouraging of their efforts – but understand they might take things at their own pace. If you are tense about their lack of friends, they will feel it.