Expat Children Syndrome and Culture Shock

I’m sure it comes to no surprise that while traveling can be fun and exciting, it can also cause a lot of stress and anxiety to children. Expat Children Syndrome, also sometimes shortened to ECS, is a psychological term to describe the constant shifting emotions and stress of living in a new country. Even when your child embraces the adventure and new culture of your new home, it’s critical to remember that there will always be ups and downs before emotionally your child can plateau. This can be especially true during puberty years where your teenager can be on an emotional rollercoaster. It can be difficult to figure out as parent how to best deal with both puberty and the trepidation your child might be feeling about a big move overseas. 


  1. Talk to your child

    1. Sometimes it helps to let them know what you plan for the next year or so. Try and anticipate what they might be feeling during certain steps and let them know that you understand what they are going through. Sometimes you’ll be busier than usual with the move or when you arrive, so let them know that you too will be stressed. However, emphasize the good and positive of moving to help them find something to focus on as well as address the potential bad.

  2. Let them be a part of the planning

    1. If your child feels like he or she is a part of the planning, it might make them feel like they are more grounded about what comes next in their life. It also might make them feel more excited about the move on the whole and the activities they have planned for themselves.

  3. Create a support system

    1. While you might have your spouse to lean on during times of great change and stress, your child might not be quite so lucky, especially if they are a single child. It could be helpful to try and create a support system outside of the home. Think about maybe contacting future teachers and classmates in advance so that your child can have a chance to connect with people before you’ve left the country. They might feel better knowing that they’ve already made friends and found mentors before having stepped foot in Korea.


Some helpful links:


Arriving in Korea Dealing with Culture Shock