Expat Life Is Full Of Goodbyes
The city that we are lucky enough to temporarily call home is a bountiful one that is full of momentum and change. And as expats, we must learn to manage and adapt to the changes that happen around us. One of the hardest changes that impact’s our lives is the feeling that we are perpetually saying goodbye.
Leaving our friends and family back home is tough but it doesn’t end there. The average stay for an expat family in the UAE is 8 years. (www.dec.org.ae). So, once you have said farewell to the family and made the move, you will still have to experience the difficulties that come with the seemingly frequent departure of friends and loved ones from Dubai.
Saying goodbye is hard enough as an adult and for children it can be a confusing and lonely time. So what can we do to help our little ones understand and cope with their feelings when they need to say goodbye to their family or when their friends move on?
According to Dr Susan Linn, the founding director of ‘Campaign for a Commercial free Childhood, helping our children to cope with change is all about laying a solid foundation in which they can confidently express their feelings. Being listened to and empathised with is key.
“Helping children successfully manage the separations that inevitably occur is a good way to help them develop lifelong strategies for managing loss. Let your child know that you hear what she/he is saying. Feeling unheard compounds a child’s sense of isolation.” (Dr Susan Linn).
Bright Horizons is an international provider of early education that focuses on nurturing each child’s unique potential. They believe that saying goodbye is a lifelong process that does not necessary have to be negative.
“Children may react to change with excitement and enthusiasm, or crying, sulking and even using aggression. Talk to your child about the positive things. Too much talk about how hard it is to say goodbye can sometimes make our children more upset. While we should never ignore our children’s feelings, it’s also important to be encouraging.” (Bright Horizons)
According to Bright Horizons there are activities that you could do with your child that will help them to compartmentalise and process their emotions in a positive way.
Such as, creating a classroom scrapbook, writing a friendship note to departing friends and using art as therapy by painting, storytelling and drawing.
Frequently having to say goodbye is one of the more difficult ramifications of being an expat. But a few simple techniques can help you and your child develop coping strategies that will have lifelong benefits.
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