How to prepare your child to move abroad

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Hand some control to your child

Continuing from the previous article about how your child has no choice about relocating abroad:

Although when moving overseas with kids the initial decision to move is yours, you can and should involve them in making decisions about other aspects of the move.

Involve them sufficiently and involve them far enough in advance. They may need more time to process through to acceptance than you do.

Do as many of the following as you possibly can:


Involve them actively in researching the country you will move to. Find photos, histories, online communities. Involve their friends in this. (Their friends can be your biggest allies or your greatest obstacle to your child’s understanding and accepting your decision.)

Give them the chance to ask all the questions they may have. Answer these in all honesty. Don’t fib, fudge or fake it. Ever. If you don’t know an answer involve them in finding out the answer. Let them see it’s important to you to find out. Don’t promise anything you don’t absolutely know you’ll be able to provide. Don’t lose their trust. Trusting you will provide them a sense of security. If they trust your decisions they will feel less apprehensive. Your honesty is their security.


Prepare them for possible language barriers by getting language tutors or lessons if necessary.


Involve them in deciding what they will take or leave behind. Allow them some decision-making. It will help them feel that they have some say in what is happening to them.

Ask them what they’ll miss most. Research if those things are available in your new country. Take them with you if possible. Being surrounded by familiar things will comfort them in their new home (this includes favorite foods, toys, books, clothing, games, blankets, and anything else that provides them a sense of security).

If there are things you must leave behind, talk about saying goodbye to them on several occasions, plan how or when to say goodbye, progressively distance them mentally from the object (or pet or person) over a period of time.


Get in touch with possible schools and teachers and involve them in communicating with them prior to your move. If possible, try to establish a pen pal (or chat etc) relationship with one or more kids at their new school prior to moving. This is one of the most important aspects for your kids and, given the technology of our times, one of the easiest to accomplish if you are able to choose a school prior to moving.

Keeping in touch

Help them make a concrete plan for how they will communicate with their friends and family back home. Assure them you’ll help them make that possible. Research phone calling, long distance rates, mail delivery times, internet connections before you go. Discuss a budget. Involve their friends in this.

Making friends

Discuss how you will participate in helping them make new friends and/or adjust to their new school. (You may be surprised to find some kids would rather mom or dad NOT enter with them or hold their hand or kiss them goodbye on their first day).

Some more steps to help your child feel in control about the move will be listed in the next article.

Continue here for more steps to help your child with a move abroad…

Republished with kind permission from Charis Barks via Moving overseas with kids? Expat parents get 20 pointers from an expat kid now!

This is part of a series extracted from a larger blog; the whole series can be found here…
  1. What kids worry about when relocating
  2. Relocating overseas with children
  3. A child has no choice about moving overseas
  4. How to prepare your child to move abroad
  5. Steps to help your child with an overseas move
  6. Moving overseas with kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare

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