Managing relocation and settling in with kids

Hear the word relocation and we all are into planning the nitty gritty and details right from immigration papers, packers, work handovers, school leaving letters and doctor certificates. And in between all the busy days of planning the move and settling into a new place, it’s easy to overlook or skip the feelings of anxiety as a family. Well, this month we spoke to Tatiana Mironova and her family who moved here 10 years ago from Russia with 3 kids in tow – one just entering the teens. Tatiana has 4 children Max 22, Varvara 17, Eva 11 and Teo 2.5 years old. Her husband Simon works in a company in Prague in the area of Finance. Tatiana herself is a child psychologist and runs her own bilingual education centre for kids called Smart Games in Prague 5.

How hard was it when you moved here?
Honestly, it was quite hard. I did not know Czech and every small thing I needed to get done like, day-to-day activities – post office, kindergarten, hospitals were quite difficult. Further, my son was 12 years old then, just entering teenage. And he used to study in a Waldorf School in Russia. Here, he had to go to a Czech school and a regular form of education. And he struggled as he did not know the language. He found it difficult to communicate with the teachers and other kids. He felt a bit lonely with no friends. It was indeed disheartening at that time. Today he is a graphic designer in Radio Free Europe and doing quite well for himself.

What did you do to tide over this difficulty? Am sure most families have these issues.
Well, this is the time that the whole family should come together to bond and support each other. A family is always the fallback option. As parents, it is our responsibility to manage ourselves first and the kids will take the cue from it. Children are very observant and our stability makes them confident. I remember that for me, language was the biggest barrier. I used to go to parents’ meetings in schools and could never understand or contribute. And I realised that if I needed to help my son, I needed to learn the Czech language. So I went to school and studied the Czech language for 2 years. And I found that once we parents adopt, the children will also follow pace.

What would you advise parents to do when they relocate especially when children find it hard in school? Issues like loss of confidence due to no friends, or trying hard to get adjusted to a new place.
Well, parents must find out the child’s area of interest and encourage him/ her. Many times children need a vent for their emotions and this can actually become a strength. My son started to draw a lot when he found it hard to do well academically. And we just gave him all our support and this kept his faith in himself going.
It is very normal for expats to try and remain within their community as this is a safe zone. For instance, if I am Russian, I have a Russian community for friends. But my advice is – try to integrate or parents will be left behind as the kids grow. For instance, I once heard my daughter speaking with her friend in Czech and realised that if I did not know the language I don’t know what is happening in her life. Probably in a while, she will stop communicating with me! So it is highly important that we adapt.
If you have younger kids, toddlers and babies, make sure they are in a local community of parents and they will learn well and quickly.

Want to read more of Tatiana’s views on building a child’s character and managing sensitive children? Read this in the concluding part of her interview.