Supporting Multicultural Teens and Pre-teens

My own blog, Creative World of Varya, started 13 years ago when my oldest daughter was 1.5 years old. For years my focus was on younger children and babies but now my own children are older. Even though I continue working with families with young children, I am on a constant lookout for resources for older children too. Supporting multicultural teens and pre-teens can be quite a task, especially if you live abroad in a country with a completely different language and culture. Some time ago I wrote a Letter to My Multicultural Daughters encouraging and reassuring them.

The Challenges of Maintaining Friendships at School

For years my children attended local schools and I always thought that pulling them out of the local school was only for reasons that the education system is not quite the same as our goals and ideas. However, once my children joined an international school, I saw there was a gap also in the socio-emotional aspect where one of my children was not quite able to maintain strong connections when it came to a group of 3 or more children interacting with each other. It’s not that we avoided friendships with children around. Quite the opposite – we tried really hard to make friends with classmates and neighbors. Nonetheless, due to the extremely busy schedule at school and lots of homework, we were rarely able to organize playdates. Hence, the gap in communication skills.

6 Ways to Support Multicultural Teens and Pre-teens

So, with my personal observations and after talking to a few parents in similar conditions, I would like to share with you some things you could pay attention to, even though everything seems fine and there seem to be no issues:

  1. Communication – Even a moody teen will spill the beans when asked proper questions. In fact, the way you communicate with your teen comes from the time your teen is still very young. I have worked as an educator for over 20 years and have been a parent for 15. So, talk to your child not in a demanding way but rather encourage sharing and make sure they know you are the first person/people they should come to no matter what.
  2. Avoid tendencies to “always stick with your own people only”– while it’s nice to have a community of your compatriots around, your child WILL want to be out of that community, and encouraging them to go out there and make friends will help them adapt and blend in more.
  3. Learn the local languages – this is probably the most valuable advice I can share with you. With a teen, it may also be fun to take the class together and then giggle at each other’s mistakes which would definitely be a good way to bring you closer. Note: please, don’t confuse this with mocking one’s language. My oldest always laughs at how her dad and I pronounce some words in Chinese. It breaks the ice and gives us some things to talk about.
  4. Attend various events and, if possible, take time to travel to nearby or far locations – try different things (food, activities). It’s an excellent opportunity to keep one’s mind occupied and free from rather depressing thoughts.
  5. Allow your teens and pre-teens to keep in touch with their peers back home/abroad – encourage building {safe} connections and friendships.
  6. Do keep family connections and talk about your child’s heritage – It is as equally important as being immersed in new cultures. Knowing one’s heritage can help with finding one’s identity and direction in life.

I would absolutely love to hear about your tips and tricks when it comes to supporting multicultural teens and pre-teens.

Please share in the comments!

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Traveling with Teens: The Why and How

How To Foster Multicultural Friendships

7 Tips to Find Your Multicultural Identity

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Varya blogs at CreativeWorldOfVarya.Com . She is a mom to 3 children, an educator, a childhood neuropsychologist, an early development specialist, a baby massage and perinatal fitness instructor, aromatherapist and a breastfeeding counselor. Varya has been living in China for over 20 years working and raising her multicultural family.
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