ExpatCounsellingNow

Counselling for Expats

Author: expatcounsellingnow (page 2 of 2)

‘Where are you from?’

This short video from the BBC beautifully explores what in expat communities is the absolute norm. The look on many kids’ faces as they hear the question, ‘Where are you from?’ says it all – you can see them trying to work out what it is you want to know. Where was I born? Where are my parents from? What does it say on my passport? Where do I live? Where do I feel at home? My own kids are both French and English, were born in Viet Nam and now live in Africa. We see how hurtful it can be for them when someone dismisses them as ‘not fully British’ or ‘not proper French’ – and they don’t have race thrown into the mix. They are full and empathic human beings who belong in the world – perhaps the very notion of ‘nationhood’ needs revising…

Talking about mental health

This is a great video to use as a conversation starter in schools or with your own children…

Home for Christmas?

Going ‘home’ for Christmas as an expat can be a thrilling and daunting experience. It’s a rush of catching up, rose-tinted views of life ‘back home’, extended family and the ever-present dilemma of how much to share about your life in distant climes…

Heading home can indeed be wonderful. Family and friends, cosy chats, familiarity and festivity. On the other hand it can be very hard work too. Jet-lag, living out of a suitcase, trying to spread your finite time between everyone you want to see and everything you want to do. And presents? Last minute shopping locally, or pay the excess baggage and risk presents in your suitcase? And if you have kids in tow, do relatives ever listen when you politely ask them NOT to get massive, heavy gifts for the children?

On the other hand, staying in your country of residence for the festive break also has pros and cons. The joy of no international travel. A home you are familiar with, an equipped kitchen to cook and you get to enjoy the tree you probably put up on December 1st, instead of rushing off and leaving it behind. And missing family and friends, and vowing that next year we’ll go ‘home’…

However you’ll be spending the holidays, there are a couple of things that are important.

Whilst I virtually never heed my own advice here, and whilst it does sound corny, Christmas should be about the presence, not the presents…especially if you’ve just flown halfway around the world, its about being with those who are special to you, not about what you bought for them. (Otherwise we’d just use Amazon and stay put, right?)

Traditions matter. Whether it’s the homemade Advent calendar, that cake recipe or a film you simply have to watch together, try to maintain traditions, or build new ones. Especially if you are with your children, they will remember a Christmas tradition in years to come, though they’ll struggle to recall that present they REALLY wanted.

And above all, remember to be gentle with yourself. You may be frazzled, exhausted, trying to please everyone and feeling guilty all at the same time. Take time for you, as well.

Social Media

It can make expat life that bit easier. Staying in contact with friends back home – especially for kids – can be crucial to allowing themselves to settle to a new home. I heard a story – which I suspect might not be true – which made me stop and think. The story goes that Einstein’s daughter was moving to Europe to work and he was lamenting her departure. A friend said, ‘Hey, don’t worry. There’s the telephone now – you’ll be able to talk to her.’ He reportedly replied, ‘If it weren’t for the telephone, she wouldn’t be going.’

I suspect that’s true of email and Facebook and Instagram and Skype for many of us on the expat circuit. Social media allows us to think we’re staying in touch, staying connected. It may have been a deciding factor in your move. But it comes with risks for all of us, and children in particular…

“We know that a significant amount of children are being contacted via popular live-streaming apps, such as TikTok, by abusers who are using them as a hunting ground,” a spokesperson for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said this weekend.

The NSPCC said it surveyed 40,000 schoolchildren and discovered that 25 percent of the children had live-streamed with a stranger. One in 20 children were asked, while live-streaming or in the comments of a posted video, to take their clothes off, according to NSPCC. 

TikTok, livestreaming apps are ‘hunting ground’ for abusers, warn kids’ advocates

And also..

Why Teenage Girls Roll Their Eyes

Insights on Teenage Behavior

            In this Edutopia article, Stephen Merrill says that recent research has given us important new information on the adolescent brain. 

            • The limbic system (the seat of primal instincts like fear, hunger, lust, and pleasure) is hyperactive during adolescence, while the prefrontal cortex (the seat of self-control, planning, and self-awareness) is still developing. “It’s not youthful irrationality or a flair for the dramatic at work,” says Merrill; “teenagers actually experience things like music, drugs, and the thrill of speed more powerfully than adults do.” 

            • The brain’s neuroplasticity at this stage of life makes kids sponges for learning. “The same emerging circuitry that makes teenagers vulnerable to risky behavior and mood swings also confers significant advantages on adolescent learners,” says Merrill. 

            • Being with peers increases risk-taking, most dangerously with automobiles and alcohol consumption. “It’s never been a question of feeling invulnerable,” says Merrill; “for teenagers, there’s just something about the presence of peers that is transfiguring. They understand the risks, and take them anyway.” 

            • Kids at this age respond well to direct explanations. “Talking to teenagers frankly about their brain development can provide useful context for their emotional worlds,” says Merrill, “and reset their expectations about their potential for continued intellectual growth.” This includes explaining the limbic system, the malleability of their brains, and the peer effect. 

            • Similarly, teens are receptive to learning about self-regulation, managing stress, and considering the feelings of others. Instruction in these areas is more effective than trying to scare kids about risky behaviors. 

            • Peer culture and teens’ keen sense of fairness and justice can be powerful levers. Preaching about smoking’s health consequences is usually ineffective, but talking about bad breath, peer disapproval, impact on younger children, and the way the tobacco industry hooks and exploits people can change teens’ attitudes and behavior. 

“Decoding the Teenage Brain (in 3 Charts)” by Stephen Merrill in Edutopia, January 31, 2019

Taken directly from The Marshall Memo 774

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