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Another time, another place

Consulting children before planning to shift to another country is important for a family to consider, writes Kanchan Apte.

sex and relationships Updated: Aug 22, 2013 13:43 IST
Kanchan Apte

When the Chitres decided to come back from California for good, the one place they did not expect trouble from was their children's school. "We were worried about adjusting to the climate, food habits, but thought school would be fine," says Usha Chitre.

However, Neha (7) and Nihal (9) had a tough time adjusting to the new culture, new friends and the new school. It was their first visit to India and the kids could not cope with the sudden change.

"It was difficult for Neha. Her classmates made fun of her accented English," Usha says. Matters came to head when Neha refused to go to school. Usha then realised that her children weren't prepared for such an overhaul.

Usha feels that she should have prepared her children to expect drastic changes in their lifestyle. "That's the only way to help them accept the big upheaval," she says.

Key to adjusting
Though, the Chitre children are settled now, the first semester was difficult for everyone in the family. Neha came home in tears from school almost every day for almost two months and insisted that they should go back ‘home'.

Anne, a teenager, faced a similar problem when she moved from a cosmopolitan Mumbai school to Pune.

While Anne's parents were very excited about returning to their roots, for her it was a forced decision which she found difficult to cope with.

Like the Shahs, who returned to London because their children could not adjust to life in India.

Jyoti Parchure, a child counsellor, says, Children need time to settle into changes - school, city and friends. Parents should take steps early on to make this transition easier.

Listen and learn
Take your children into confidence and talk to them about the move before it actually happens.

Consider their opinion before making the final decision. The place could be special for you because of the emotional bond but your children may not think so.

As soon as a decision is made, tell the children about it. This will give them time to prepare for the change.

Establishing a routine at a new place similar to the one earlier also helps the child. For instance, if the child used to swim in the evenings, find a pool in the new locality.

Encourage your child to talk about feelings. Listen to the kids objectively. Not all kids will protest for the sake of protesting.