Immigrating: Inspiration Comes in Small Packages

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Immigration is an emotionally challenging process. It takes its toll on the best and can do so even on young children. From things as simple as learning to sleep in a new bed to making new friends, learning the ways and means of a new society or speaking a new language, children have to undergo some of the same challenges as their parents.

Yet, they also have some advantages which help them get through these changes much more easily. They in turn, can inspire, give strength and emotional support to the rest of the family. Parents and older members of the family can learn a number of things from them, from simple colloquial phrases to emotional resilience.

What if these new kids don’t like me?

Kids feel pressure too. There is a chance that they will pick up on the anxieties of the parents. Fortunately, most of them survive this transition and adapt well. They do so by drawing on their innate ability to bounce back from adversity and cope with stress and change. They pick up the language much faster, accents more quickly, are open to new tastes and make friends more easily than most adults do. You may meet recent immigrants who are struggling with basic phrases, while his or her kid in grade two is already stringing together meaningful sentences.

A majority of kids soak in new experiences like sponges. Younger kids are more open to new experiences. They have fewer preconceived notions; their belief systems are less rigid and defined. All of this helps them adjust to the new culture and lifestyle more easily than the rest of the family.

The fixed routine at school and lack of pressure of family responsibilities also helps them adjust without too many worries. The younger they are, the easier the adjustment to their new surroundings.

If you’re looking for work or running out of money, supporting kids may seem like an additional burden. Yet, if you look at it from a different perspective they can provide you with inspiration and strength. The sight of your family at the end of a challenging day makes it all seem worthwhile.

Every morning it gives you the strength to go out and do your best. After all, it was for your kids’ future that you came this far. Use this as something to motivate yourself with, every time you feel like giving up.

There is something inherently positive about kids, they are full of hope and promise. Practice with them the local language, accents and phrases. Your four year old has a lot more to teach you than you ever imagined. You can learn from your kids without fear of criticism or ridicule. From eating ‘pancakes with maple syrup’ to learning the names of all the Canadian provinces and territories, they will give you small bits and pieces of information, which when used smartly make you feel more confident, integrated and ready to face the job interview, driving test or a challenging meeting at work with relative ease.

Instead of allowing the pressure to fracture or tear apart the family, and put undue emotional stress on everyone, it is much wiser to use it as a source of strength during a challenging transition. Kids give you hope, support and unconditional love which should surely be banked upon.

5 Things you could do to help your kids adjust:

  1. Encourage them to be open to new ideas
  2. Don’t shield them or overprotect them.
  3. Explain things to them and share with them. Involve them as much as possible by being inclusive in your decision making. From that trip to the zoo to what to wear to school, listen to them and respect their opinion.
  4. Don’t let your anxiety affects them.
  5. Learn from them

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Pankaj Tripathi

Pankaj Tripathi is a writer, journalist and management professional with more than 15 years of experience in advertising, marketing, academics, personal coaching and business restructuring. He is a motivational speaker working with young people. Pankaj is currently working on his PhD. He can be reached at (416) 508-5519 or by e-mail at p.tripathi@rogers.com.

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