Helping your children cope with change

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Many families move to a new country for their children. Parents want them to have better opportunities for a good future. But children are faced with many challenges when they move. Older kids especially must adapt quickly to their new environment. Sometimes, this is not easy.

Issues for newcomer youth:

  1. language difficulties
  2. additional stress because they sense their parents’ stress
  3. change in learning styles
  4. loss of identity
  5. discrimination
  6. bullying
  7. parental pressure to excel and meet expectations

In the following video, young immigrants talk about their experience. They discuss problems of moving to a new school in a new country. They also share tips to cope with these challenges:

New Moves (produced by Frameland Productions, funded by CIC Canada)

(You can also watch this video in many other languages at Settlement.org )


What you can do

You can support your kids in five ways:

  1. Communicate
    • Always talk to your kids. Ask how their day went.
    • Share your own stories about adjusting. It will encourage them to tell their own stories.
    • Stay upbeat. Do not judge them when they share problems.
    • Assure them that they are not alone. They just want someone to listen to them.
  2. Get involved
    • Go with your child to on their first day of school. Talk to their adviser or guidance counsellor. Learn about the curriculum together. Ask about school rules, activities and teachers’ expectations.
    • Ask about special classes that your child may need. For example, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, French, mentorship or sports programs.
    • Attend PTA (Parent Teacher Association) meetings. Learn about your child’s progress.
    • Volunteer at school events when you have extra time.
    • Talk to other parents.
  3. Observe
    • Watch for changes in behavior, moods, and eating habits. Did your child become quiet and reserved? If he was cheerful and sociable before you moved, he can be stressed or depressed.
    • Talk to your child. Be patient with him.
    • Seek professional help if you think it is serious. Go to Supportline.ca to get the right service.
  4. Seek assistance
    These agencies offer specialized services for newcomer youth:
    Family Dynamics
    Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM)
    Newcomers Employment and Education Development Services Inc. (NEEDS)
    Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC)
    Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council Inc.
  5. Encourage your child
    • Encourage them to be active in school activities and sports.
    • Let them decide. Give them the freedom to choose so they won’t feel pressured. They will become confident because of your support and trust.
    • Celebrate small victories in their school life. Tell them how proud you are of their achievements.
    • This will help them focus more on positive things and less on the challenges.

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Community Resources

For training, employment and internship opportunities, go to Youth.gc.ca and Youth Employment Services.

The Directory of Youth Addictions and Services in Manitoba is a list of agencies that provide services to families and youth experiencing addiction and sexual and mental health problems.

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