I could not write this book without including a section on children, as during this disruptive period they need a special approach and here again I hope my advice, based on experience, will be useful. Children will obviously miss familiar friends, family and places and for that reason it is important to establish new routines and a secure environment as quickly as possible.
Avoid discussing too much in front of younger members of the family, wait until they are in bed before addressing any problems, as children quickly become anxious if they think there are any difficulties. At the same time let them know what is happening, as soon as you have something definite to tell.
Taking children with you when looking for property can be a big mistake. Dismissing a prospective home as being unsuitable because it is damp, can seem extremely unreasonable to a six year old who has set his heart on the swing in the garden.
Normally well behaved children can become disruptive if handled in the wrong way. Whilst extra cuddles and a few treats are a must and will help the transition period, avoid over spoiling, as suddenly you might find you have a tyrant on your hands.
As you and your partner will be the only unchanged factors in their life at the moment, try to be consistent with the discipline they are used to. If you suddenly move all the perimeters, you will only result in making them feel even more insecure and that insecurity will manifest itself into bad behaviour.
Food colouring is not banned from many food products, as it is in the UK. Orange drinks made from powder are particularly high in additives and should your child suddenly become hyperactive, I would suggest exploring food contents more closely.
If you have school age children keep a close eye on how they are getting on. If you have problems, involve the teachers as you will probably find they have dealt with similar situations before. Sometimes it is just a case of helping your child find a suitable friend.
Talk to the Head Teacher (Principal), who can put you in contact with children who live close by and they can walk, or bike, to school with them.
The Kiwi kids are noticeably different to English kids, more sporting and not as materialistic, they have a different humour, different accent and are often quite tougher, possibly having experienced more freedom as children.
Their friendly and open manner means that your child will quickly be accepted into the group and hopefully will soon be eating their school lunch outside without comment and telling you that tomorrow is a Mufti Day (non-uniform day)
A child who refuses to go to school or complains of mystery illnesses however, is probably having difficulty settling in their new environment and needs careful handling. It is very important to acknowledge the child’s feelings (often they can feel quite physically sick). The kind, but firm, approach seems to be the answer here.
Once a child understands that you accept how they feel, but that you are going to compel them to attend school, they quickly settle down within a couple of weeks. The more you give in to them, the worse they will get.
Teenagers can bring their own problems and if you have one who is adamant that they do not want to leave the UK then you will have a tough time on your hands and would need to involve them in an activity that they love, such as surfing, that would not be available back home. One good thing, once your teenager does make friends, local phone calls are free.
During all this period of disruption take time out for yourself. I will never forget an Australian woman I met down at the school, after a particularly distressing scene getting my reluctant daughter into school.
I was tearful and harassed when this mother spoke to me, “I’ve been in this situation a few times”, she commented “and the less fuss you make and the firmer you are, then the quicker they settle down. You want to look after yourself - why not join an aerobics class and get rid of all that tension?” and then she looked me up and down once more and said “and if you need the name of a good hairdresser I know one”!!