When the move isn’t smooth

It’s that time of year where many families have moved and are settling into a new city, new country, new schools and new homes. 

I find it hard to believe that as we settle into life in Auckland, it is only two years since we were arriving in Taipei! As I’ve said before, we move often!

While the past few weeks I’ve been focusing on what you can do to support yourself and your family during a transition, there are times when it doesn’t all go smoothly. 

So how do you know if your move is having an impact on your child? 

Our move to Taipei was one of those that didn’t go textbook. For a long time we weren’t sure where we were moving to, and in the interim the girls and I supported my parents as my dad overcame cancer. So not only were we in transition, but there was a lot of emotional stuff going on as well.

We finally arrived in Taipei and the girls started the next week at school, and everything was brilliant. They had lovely teachers who were super supportive and they made really sweet friends after only a few days. 

But three months down the track, things were starting to look ‘iffy’ for Miss J. She was crying a lot, completely uncontrollable sobbing tears. But over very silly little things, like spilling her milk at breakfast. She was spending a lot of time in a corner by herself, sometimes reading but also just sitting. She struggled to do her homework, daydreaming or crying each afternoon. And she had lost that inner sparkle that we all love about her. I was assuming that she was going through a stage where hormones changed, or something like that. 

It was at the school open day that I observed her in the classroom. Of course I had been speaking regularly to her teacher and we were trying to do extra work to catch her up to the class (we missed the first few months of the school year). But suddenly I realised that she just wasn’t even on the same page, let alone catching up.

She had lost all confidence in herself and wasn’t even trying! 

So the warning signs for us were, a child who has always been called an ‘old soul’ was now displaying:

  • Regular, out of context, emotional outbursts
  • Lack of energy and enthusiasm for anything
  • No self confidence and refusal to try new things

I’m not saying this is right for everyone, but for Miss J, after many discussions we decided she should repeat year 3. 

This was presented to her by the school as “we made a mistake, you’re in the wrong group for your age” (which was also true). Her new teacher was upfront and asked her to help the class as she already knew year 3, she could support the others. And literally overnight our sparkling Miss J came back.

She was happy again, she made new friends easily, she was happy to try new things and she always worked hard until her homework was done. But the crowning moment came when she decided to make her own website for a school project. She was off school that day with a head cold, I was busy cleaning the apartment and she wanted to start. I apologised, I would help her in an hour when I was finished. But she didn’t want to wait, she gave it a go, and she did the whole thing by herself! That would never have happened a year earlier.

So as we settle into our new life in Auckland, I am on the lookout for the signs. But I am confident that we have all learned enough that we can support each other and make this a great move for our whole family.

I think the key is to know your child. Talk with them often and understand what is going on. When you see behavioural changes, look at the big picture and put it into a broader context. While I was assuming hormones were to blame, it was actually that she couldn’t do what the others could and completely lost her confidence. Importantly, stay close to the teacher and the school. Make sure you know what’s going on and what that means for your kid. 

But take heart, even if your move does impact on your child, together you can remedy the situation. 

If you want to hear more on this topic, I did a free 30 minute webinar “When Your Move Impacts You Child” with Marielle, Keeping It Real Me. You can download it here

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3 thoughts on “When the move isn’t smooth

  1. Natalie Reply

    You are “lucky “ she is a young child & could repeat the year…mine despite having done the IB & now moving to another IB school, she had settling issues too. She was in the 1st year of the final 2 year DP program & although the school had an IB program for the Diploma program, they did not have an MYP program at the time we moved, they do now.

    But what I didn’t réalisé is that her class was coming from a non IB background (IGCSE) to now an IB program so both students & teachers were in a new situation so whilst our daughter was moving from an IB background & was familiar with how things are done & did not have to do assessments etc, her new classmates were new to the IB & did things differently from her – that caused a few “battles” in those first few weeks… luckily the new school is small, headmistress & director very enthusiastic & supportive so the “issue” got nipped in the bud quickly…I guess my point is older kids, different problems..but still problems…most people seem to focus on issues that affect younger kids when you move…

    Thank you for listening to my rant! 🙏🙏

    • EmilyRogers Post authorReply

      Hi Natalie,
      Thank you for your comments, yes we are lucky our girls are younger and it is more flexible. Certainly it does get more challenging and difficult as the kids get older. The video Marielle and I recorded is available for download on my website, and what we found really interesting was that the warning signs were similar despite the difference in age of our kids. Her kids were teenagers when the move affected them, and she talks about this in the recording.
      Thanks for sharing your experience, there is no quick solution, but problems are still problems for all of us.
      Wishing you all the best moving forward, please do reach out if I can assist in any way
      Emily x

      • Natalie Reply

        Thank you Emily for your reply…I will have a look at the video you mentioned – as I type this, it is early morning for me so not a good time to listen to a video as I should be asleep but I just wanted to reieterate what you had said in your post i.e. the “trick” is to listen to your child, preferably without judgement, & to know & recognize the signs quickly that all is not well. Emphasize but don’t advise is what I have learnt to do with my teenager – she herself tells me, “ I just want someone to listen, I don’t need you to solve my problems “ so I do the “aha & it must suck & just grunt every now & then” routine BUT sometimes we know we need to step in but we talk about it first with her to see how she wants us to bring it up in school as the last thing you want to do is to embarrass her in school especially in a new school. We have been in this new environment for just over a year now & all is good now, all was better after about 2 or 3 months after we arrived hutbit was awful thinking back as we just assumed that she would blend into school as she came from an IB school & was going to an IB school but definitely cultural aspects will come into play with each country…we the parents loved the new country & felt at home here but it was harder for a teenager who had left her friends & who had literally “grown up “ in the previous country (from age 10-16) but she is definitely much better & more settled this school year…

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