moving abroad with an anxious 6yr old......(11 Posts)
My DS was 8 when we moved. As above we gave him plenty of preparation. One thing we found useful was visiting the country and the area before we moved. My DS then knew what house he was going to move into, we visited the school too. We found foods and familiar things that comforted him and kept to a regular routine.
My DS took about 9 months to settle. He was extremely anxious and couldn't be on his own at all without feeling very distressed. We took him to see a psychologist in the end and I think it helped.
I won't sugar coat it, we all had a very tough time while he adjusted and I was exhausted from his needs and anxieties. If this sounds extreme, it's because my son has ASD. TBH I don't think think he could cope with another move unless it was back to the UK.
No regrets though!
I have two kids who struggle with change (one is dx with anxiety and phobias, as well as ADHD and asd traits, the other one has cerebral palsy).
I moved them when ds1 had finished y2 and dd2 had finished reception.
We move all the time - dh is ex-military, and my older dd (13) is in her 8th school in the fourth different country.
Honestly? You just get on with it - any hint of secrecy or worry in you will be magnified a billion in anxious kids, so start early, present it as a fun new thing, and get on with it.
I usually have to literally unpeeled a wailing sobbing mass of dd2 from a distraught teacher (after yr r, the HT, class teacher and two TAs were all sobbing whilst I extricated dd2 from the limpet grasp), but, tbh, within a week or two she has settled in to the new school, and although we have had occasional 'I miss x' and a few tears, on the whole she recognises new places for new possibilities.
My sister ran such a good number on my dad when she was 10 that he didn't move us. He got made redundant on Christmas Eve less than a year later - I'm pretty adamant about it being the adults that make the decisions about these things!
We moved abroad when DS was 10 and he went straight into a state school and had to cope in the new language from day 1. I was suprised how quickly he adjusted though we had timed it so that he had a year in primary to get the language before moving up to Secondary level, which definitely helped.
He's now done it again in reverse returning to go to a UK Uni after living in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Settled in without issue.
Like papooser says they move on and adapt much quicker than us parents. Try not to worry - easier said than done I know.
Just wanted to say one of my DTs (aged 6) is very similar - hates change, a real home person, loves routine, had lots of friends at school, and when we decided to move back to the UK, he was extremely distraught at leaving his school, life and friends (the other DT couldn't care less!). I tried to balance prepping him about what was going to happen with trying not to talk about the move all the time as it just upset him. He settled unbelievably quickly and three months down the line is totally happy - we haven't had a single tear since the day before he started school (personally I think that was the main thing worrying him).
He always used to talk about returning to Australia, which is where we moved from, and I asked him in the car the other day if he'd like to do that still, and he said 'Nah we've already lived there!' It is remarkable how quickly kids move on and adapt (just leaving the parents emotional wrecks!)
My dd was 5 when we emigrated and she is a worrier too. She had just started school in the uk which I thought would make it worse.
In the end she coped really well. She settled into school immediately which was my greatest concern.
I agree with the above advice to give him as much prep as possible. We moved when dd1 was 5 and she does not like change. We read lots about the new country, watched you tube clips and travel shows.
We also basically moved dd's room as it was: toys, pictures on the wall, duvet covers, lamps, everything. It was a hassle, but she did like having all her familiar things around her.
Where is the potential move? I agree about adventures and reassuring your DS that family life will stay the same.
Also, if he is going to an International school, it would be worth contacting them in advance for a class list and getting in touch with the class teacher beforehand and asking him to write to your DS.
I did that when we moved from Switzerland to Belgium.
Make it an adventure - and reassure your DC that the family stays the same, no matter where you are. The love and safety of the family goes wherever you go, all together (not wanting to sound too cheesy about it, obviously).
The key is preparation. You could start now by reading stories about children/animals moving home. Watching TV programs about new homes. Watch programs about the new country. Discuss things like Transport, or schools in other countries.
None of this will harm if you don't go, but is an interesting way to talk about how things are in different countries etc.
Then if the move does happen start to prepare him as early as possible, do also tell his teacher and get her to help him prepare. Have a calendar where you tick off the days as soon as you have a date. Have lists of things you can do. Get him involved in preparing; sorting through his toys, does he want a goodbye party? packing some of his belongings. Talk about the things that are sent and what will happen to them, and the things in his suitcase.
On the other hand I would also talk to the school SENCO and your GP and see if he can be seen by a paediatrician. If only because it could be far easier to start a road to diagnosis in this country and may change your choices if there is an underlying cause. I am not saying there is an SN, but having had a friend whose sons were diagnosed ASD in Belgium, it would be worth starting the process here just in case.
Good luck! and I hope you have a great time.
The best thing you can do is not worry about your son's worries.
DS doesn't like change and is a real worrier. He's in year 2 at school. His younger DD is much more adaptable.
DH and I are still waiting to see if we might move with the company this year but the thought of dropping this bombshell in DS's comfortable existence fills me with dread. We've just had 2 weeks of half term and he's been a nightmare to get into school each morning after being away and he generally loves school and has a great circle of friends. DH and I have expressed our concerns (his fears are above what I would consider to be 'usual' anxieties...he's always found separation difficult)...
Any thoughts or experiences welcomed !
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