Stress and Change
Parent job changes, moving in with, or losing a home can be a cause for a child’s social and physical movement. International relocation grandparents can be too stressful for teenagers and children, especially those who are emotionally vulnerable, that they show significant effects (Wilkinson and Singh, 2010). This is considering that they will leave behind their friends and even the familiar environment they are used to, for a totally new and different setting. The child will perceive this for the first time as a loss and the child may feel worthless or insignificant, especially in situations where they were not consulted by their parents.
Children movement stressors
Ryan-Wenger, Sharrer, and Campbell (2005) noted that stressors and attempts to cope with the stress could impact one psychologically, behavior-wise, and physiologically. Moving from one country or region to another involves changes in languages, communications, and interpersonal, social, and cultural boundaries (James, 1997). This proves that moving to a new environment can be stressful, inducing different experiences for children. This can be caused by loss of social support from the child’s friends. Loss of friends can result in the child going through a mourning process (Tabor and Milfont (2013). This can make the child’s socialization processes difficult as the transition process elicits unpleasant emotions. Moreover, the loss can result in feelings of sadness and anxiety, or even anger with oneself and the surroundings. To ensure that the child does not experience such stress, the parent should ensure that they prepare the child psychologically for the transition. For example, by telling them that they are going to begin school elsewhere or that they will leave their friends behind. Change of surroundings may impact on the cultural environment. Children may be stressed after experiencing difficulties adjusting to new cultures in school and society.
Anderson and Jimerson (2007) cited that a child might take long to fine-tune to a fresh curriculum and dissimilar teacher expectations. A child who may be behind in a curriculum may be anxious and bored especially when the teacher and parent do not give them the guidance and support he/she needs. The survival-orientation of the new child in the new environment may negatively impact the child’s performance in school. This can affect their self-esteem along with their personality.
Frequent changes in the child’s schooling environment may cause loss in the benefits that accompany the schooling and social benefits that accompany school reforms. The child may develop stress due to frequent thoughts of whether the child will fit in the behavioral pattern of the age mates in the new locality. In addition, climatic conditions may be a stressor; this is especially when the two regions have a wide climatic difference. For example, winter may be a stressor for someone who is from a semi-arid region.
However, stressors and hardships resulting from movement can be used to bring productivity and efficiency in the personal, social, and professional aspects of the children’s lives. This can be done by supporting the child towards gaining a positive experience. This will lock doors for the possibility of any negative energy that may adversely affect the child. For example, educators and policy makers can alleviate the stress of moving and changing schools for children by taking conscious efforts in helping the children who have transferred. In other cases, the teacher can help the child to participate in class events and draw the classroom circles to include the new learner.
The guardian should clearly explain and listen to the child’s views. Details of the child’s feelings about the whole matter will help the parent to clarify anything that the child might have not been able to comprehend in the beginning. The parent can then take this chance and acquaint the child with the expectations of the new surroundings. For example, the parent can use maps of the environment of the new home as well as photographs to show the child the area you are moving into. In addition, the guardian can get involved in the child’s activities; this can include going to church with the child or sporting together. This will help in the transition period before the child makes new friends and as the child acclimatizes to the new surroundings.
It helps to find a suitable outlet for one’s stress. For example, one can find something that is mind engaging so as to vent emotions and pressure. This can range from listening to one’s favorite music to scenery to enjoy walks. This is effective in dealing with the transition stress as it gives short escapes and equips one with strategies of dealing with the stress that one may be going through (Bagdi and Pfister 2006). Taking time to bid goodbye to spaces and a group you leave helps reduce stress. This involves spending time with friends, neighbors and visiting places you liked in the neighborhood. One can do this in the companionship of their family, encouraging their expressions. While visiting those places, it is important that one concentrate on the positive aspects of the new country or place they are shifting to.
A change of the environment that a child is used to can be stressful; the parents should ensure that the transition is done in a way that eliminates any chances of stress to the child. In cases where the child has been stressed, it is important that the child be guided out of that situation well.
Anderson, G. E., & Jimerson, S. R. (2007). Stressful life experiences of children: The correspondence between professional judgments of teachers-in-training and children’s perceptions. Psychology in the Schools, 44(8), 807-821.
Bagdi, A., & Pfister, I. K. (2006). Childhood Stressors and Coping Actions: A Comparison of Children and Parents’ Perspectives. Child & Youth Care Forum, 35(1), 21-40. doi:10.1007/s10566-005-9001-8
James, D. C. (1997). Coping with a new society: The unique psychosocial.. Journal Of School Health, 67(3), 98
Ryan-Wenger, N. A., Sharrer, V. W., & Campbell, K. K. (2005). Changes in Children’s Stressors Over the Past 30 Years. Pediatric Nursing, 31(4), 282-291.
Tabor, A. S., & Milfont, T. L. (2013). Family social support during the predeparture period: The experience of British migrants. International Journal Of Psychology, 48(3), 291-299. doi:10.1080/00207594.2011.634008
Wilkinson, A., & Singh, G. (2010). Managing Stress in the Expatriate Family: A Case Study of the State Department of the United States of America. Public Personnel Management, 39(2), 169-181.