Homesickness in Expat children

sad boy


Homesickness in Expat children happens more often than you think.

They tend to be overlooked by the adults and that is usually because kids are so resilient and adaptable.

Signs your child may be experiencing homesickness

Children are not always able to express how they are feeling, especially the younger ones.

They tend to express themselves through their behaviour and don’t forget, to them, their emotions are very real.

vintage flowers

Some of the more common behaviours of a child who is experiencing homesickness are:

Pleading to go home: this is fairly self-explanatory.

They tend to cry a lot more: and to us it may seem as if for no reason and that every little thing sets them off.

They are acting up more: It may seem as if their entire behaviour has changed, and they start to do anything and everything they can to receive negative attention. This will most commonly occur during meal and bedtimes.

Or they may start to withdraw from everyone and won’t want any interaction with others. They stop playing with friends and just hide away in their room.

They may start to meltdown when you unexpectedly change their routine. This usually means that they are feeling insecure.

They may start to become more physical: Hitting, punching, biting, or throwing things around.

Physical symptoms may occur, such as stomach-ache or headaches.

mum and child hug

What can you do to help your homesick expat children?

1. You need to remember that you are the example.

What is your behaviour like in front of your children?

Are you complaining about how unhappy you are? If so you need to stop (at least stop doing this in front of them. Go for it when they are not around)

You are their compass in life. They learn by watching you and how you behave in these situations.

2. Bring a little bit of home with you:

This not only refers to actual items, but also your daily routines you’re your family traditions.

Keep doing the things that you did back home. Just because you moved to a new country does not mean you have to leave everything behind.

Your daily routine, for instance, will create a sense of normalcy and help your children to feel secure because they are able to anticipate what is going to happen next in this new place.

3.Keep busy and socialise:

When my 15-year-old decided to finish high school in Australia instead of the Netherlands, one bit of advice I gave her was to make good friends.

Why?

Because I knew that her friends would pull her through the tough times, and they have.

The same for younger children. Friends they can see regularly will help them get through the rough times.

See if you can enrol them in an afterschool activity. Sports groups or a hobby group tend to be the most popular.

Although my kids, when they were younger when to a music group where they would sing and dance and discover a new instrument each week.

This is also a fantastic way for you to make new friends.

4. Stay in touch with home:

Keeping in touch with friends and family is not only important for your children, but also for yourself and friends and family members who are left behind.

Have a regular day and time when you ring each other (or video chat). My mother read a book to my children every night just before bed. It did wonders for them both.

When my daughter was little, she would skype with her cousin (who was a year older) every weekend and they would play together for hours.

With today’s technology you don’t need to feel the distances, they are just a few clicks away.

5. Talk to your children:

Kids are smart. You can hold a conversation with them about how they are feeling.

Try and let them tell you in their own words how they are feeling, you may need to guide them by asking questions, but let them do their best to explain, even if they don’t know why they feel what they feel.

Let them know that it is okay to feel that way, that they are not alone in feeling this. If you feel this way, tell them, show them how to cope with their emotions. Crying is not a weakness, it natural and healthy. As is missing family member, friends and the way life used to be.

If they are behaving badly because of feeling bad, let them know that there are other ways to show this and give examples.

End the conversation with a list of all the positive things about being in this new country.

For more posts on homesickness click HERE

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