Every time you move from one place or one country to another, it is very normal that you experience culture shock.
Culture shock happens as a result of being in a new place; Adjusting to strange foods, unfamiliar people, different language, peculiar culture, or a new climate.
It usually happens when you have felt the loss of friends, pet, family, home and familiar places; Preschool children, on the other hand, may have also experienced countless emotions about your move.
Your older children might be very excited about all the beautiful places in Singapore.
But they may also be homesick and struggle to adjust to climate changes.
And due to the limited language abilities of a preschooler, you need to look out for signs that your little one is having difficulties settling down in Singapore.
Why is a Move Difficult for Children?
In many cases, children have little or no say in this matter. The parents mostly inform them of a decision that is already made.
While as a parent you may view a move to Singapore as the best thing that has ever happened to your family. However; remember that your little ones may not have the same incentives as you.
You may be looking at career progression and financial benefits. But along with other benefits, these may not make sense to your kids at the moment. Therefore, take time to prepare them as much as possible for this move.
Issues That May Cause Culture Shock to a Preschooler
Differences in Accents
Though your preschooler may encounter some English speaking children, communication may be hindered as he/she may find the resident children’s accent incomprehensible.
The new friends, on the other hand, may find your little one odd due to the different accents.
The language barrier can make it more challenging for your tot to make friends in Singapore and can affect their self-esteem negatively.
Presence of a Second Language in Class
If you are from a purely English, German or French-speaking country, your kiddo may be shocked to find an incomprehensible language in their classroom.
Though teaching is conducted in English, preschools in Singapore have a multi-lingual approach to learning.
Differences in Hair and Skin Color
Your little one may attract stares and unsolicited photographing from strangers in the streets due to different hair and skin color.
You may need to prepare your kiddo beforehand about such stares. Show them pictures of people who have different skin and hair color. Explain that all people are not alike. Make them feel comfortable in their skin.
School uniforms are the norm in many Singaporean preschools. Arouse your little one’s excitement towards school uniforms by showing him or her beautiful images of small children in uniform.
Ways to Mitigate the Effects of Culture Shock
1. Say Your Goodbyes Well
Inform your kiddo as early as possible about the move to Singapore.
Allow them enough time to say goodbye to their pets, friends, home, grandparents and significant others in the child’s life.
Don’t underestimate what this move could mean to your kiddo.
2. Recreate Your Home with Familiar Objects and Routines
Once you have made the big move to Singapore, try to re-create your new home to look like the old one.
Recreate the bedrooms with the same color of linen, wall posters, same toys to minimize the uncertainty that comes with change.
If possible, have the same color of plates, and cups especially those that bear your little one’s favorite hero or cartoon character. Keep your routines and rituals. Bring your bed-time storybooks with you. Continue with this ritual and read stories of familiar characters.
Keep on speaking your language. Your home should be as familiar as possible even when the world out there seems so strange.
3. Help Them Pursue Passions
If your little one had a hobby they pursued back in your homeland, look for an opportunity to pursue the same here in Singapore.
Look for a music school or a swimming club where they can meet children who share the same interests as them. Such places are fertile grounds to meet new friends.
You may also make lasting friendships in such places.
4. Help Them Find New Friends
Ask your little one’s teacher to give you contacts of families that live close to you. Call those parents to organize play dates for your tot.
Within no time, your little one will have new friends. Playdates are also an opportunity for you to interact with adults in your neighborhood.
5. Learn Local words and Phrases
Language can aggravate culture shock. Try to learn local phrases and words for basic communication. You can also hire a language teacher for your little one or enroll in a language study center.
For example, learning Mandarin will help your little one settle down better at school. Since your preschooler is still developing language abilities, learning a new language may not be so difficult for them.
6. Introduce School Gradually
Don’t throw your preschooler into a full-day preschool programme. You can start with half-day programs and see how they handle it.
Schools that have parent-child sessions may be better as you will have a first-hand experience of the preschool facilities and programs.
7. Watch for Behavior Change
Withdrawal, anger, and sadness may be signs that your little one is not coping well. Keenly observe their behavior and listen to the stories they tell. Watch them play to see whether you can decipher any uncomfortable experiences.
Talk to their teacher to create a friendly experience for your little one at school.
Take advantage of the honeymoon phase of your stay in Singapore to explore exciting places in your new locality. Embrace the Singaporean culture as a family.
Try out restaurants that have attractive children menus. This will create a positive impression of Singapore in your little one’s mind.
9. Remain Constant
Be the thing that has not changed in your little one’s life. Be the unwavering support that your little one needs to settle down. Listen and address their anxieties, and allow them to vent. This means that you must address your culture shock as well.
Culture shock will be a part of your family for a while after you move to Singapore. As a parent, you need to stand by your child as they go through this phase.