Moving to Costa Rica can be a big positive for the entire family
While your kids may be excited about your move to Costa Rica, relocating to a new country is a challenge for families, even under the best of circumstances. Once you’ve purchased your Costa Rica property and made the move, it’ll be time to turn your attention toward the kids in order to make sure their own move to Costa Rica, and subsequent adjustment their own new lives as expatriates, is as smooth as possible.
Here are five tips to help you stay in tune with your kids, and guide them through the ins and outs of life in a Costa Rica.
Expect the unexpected
Children are a bag of surprises, and they may not react to the move in the way you expect them to. Kids don’t cope with change in the same way as adults, and they don’t express their feelings in the same way. Even kids who are happy about the move will undoubtedly experience conflicting emotions and times of ambivalence.
After a big life change, kids may act out, become clingy or shy, or display other unexpected behavioral changes. This is, in nearly all cases, a normal, expected, and age-appropriate way to cope with their new circumstances. Be sure to give them the time, space, and encouragement they need to process things in their own way.
Maintain limits and boundaries
While you should show your kids a little extra understanding and compassion, they need to know that you are the same person you always were, and that your boundaries and rules for behavior are still the same.
Keep routines and traditions
Children are adaptable enough to be okay with and even enjoy big life changes. However, they do crave stability. Keeping your usual routines and traditions – movie nights, family bike rides, Christmas decorations — can help make them feel more secure, and may even help them adapt sooner.
Don’t force things
Parents often worry about the effects an overseas move will have on their kids. They sometimes overcompensate by “selling” the new circumstances — by being overly exuberant or enthusiastic about the move, or insisting that their kids try new things or make friends with new people. Your kids will find things to enjoy about their new homeland, on their own terms, eventually. Be patient, and be calm. The more at ease you are, the more relaxed and open they will be to change.
Be available to your kids. Ask them about their feelings, and listen to them without judgment, and without trying to employ a “quick fix.” They just want to know that you’re available, and you care.
Find little ways to adapt
Turn learning Spanish into a game. Make a point of visiting local restaurants so that everyone can find their own new favorite foods. Find fun, out-of-the-way places to visit. Learn a new skill, like surfing, kayaking, or scuba diving, together. Make a list of places you’d like to explore, then check them off one by one. If your child is reluctant to participate, don’t force the issue. Just keep inviting him – he will come around eventually.
Making the decision to buy property in Costa Rica and become an expat can be one of the most rewarding decisions you can possibly make for your family. When buy property and live in a community like Los Sueños or it’s surrounding areas, there are a multitude of opportunities for kids to get involved, make new friends, and evolve as multi-cultural children who see the world differently than those who never leave the States.