In this post, I’ll share how we helped our daughter deal with culture shock when we moved to Ecuador.
Moving abroad is a pretty big undertaking. It’s exciting, exhilarating, fascinating and challenging. We have really enjoyed the experience. Our emotions have run the whole gamut of what would be expected to what just can’t be anticipated.
When moving abroad with children in tow it’s even more difficult to foresee what challenges they will experience emotionally, and how these things will be exhibited. We expected that our daughter would miss her friends and family, our old house and her old things. What we didn’t anticipate, was the affect that that not being able to communicate would have on her.
Update: Check out my new book about moving abroad as a family. The Happy Expat Family
What Our Daughter Needed When We Moved to Ecuador
Our daughter has always had a need for never-ending input. When this need was no longer being fulfilled in the language area it caused her body to go into hyper drive. It was hard to calm her down when we were out, and when we got home she was extra active and emotional.
She didn’t understand what was wrong, but it didn’t take us long to figure it out. We realized we had to do something to help her adjust. Something to take the place of what she was not getting mentally, until she got used to not understanding, and could start to decipher the new language she was hearing.
More reading: Why Culture Shock is Good for You
Before we made our move we talked about the many positive changes this move would mean for our family. Like having more time together, learning a new language, experiencing a new culture and possibly getting a dog. Well this last one was her favorite, and helped her see the move in a positive way. We told her that we would need at least a year in Ecuador before we would get a dog, and she was fine with this. We were wrong.
We Lasted One Month…
We decided to get a puppy after just one month. We were hoping that it would be what she needed to take her extra energy and emotion, we were right. She was on top of the world; the puppy took all of her attention. She was so happy she forgot about the frustration churning inside her.
Chica, a fuzzy soft white ball of warm energy made it all better. The extra work was welcome when we saw the huge difference this new little member of our family was making. Who knew our daughters new best friend (and the most powerful help to her in adjusting) could be had for 30 dollars at the local market?
We’ve been here for over a year now and things are calm and normal (most of the time). But this experience has taught us a good lesson in being flexible.
For the first six or seven months when I would see that things were getting to be a little too much, I would just say “this is a vacation day” and we would go to the city for the day, or play games and watch movies (in English) all day.
Being flexible (and getting the dog) made adjusting bearable for our 8 year old. And she still thanks me almost every day for her very powerful pooch.
Are you planning on getting (or bringing) a pet when you move?