Most of us immigrate for our children's' sake, to give our children a better chance and to keep them safe. If, after a while, we find our children do not adapt to their new life so easily and especially if they fall victim to bullying, we wonder if it was the right thing to take them from their familiar surroundings to a place where they do not have support and security.
South African children are very popular in Australian schools because they are normally more mature and responsible and more disciplined than their Australian counterparts. They are also favoured if they have musical talents and, the most sought after trait, good sportsmanship. Generally speaking, most South African children easily assimilate into their new schools and lives.
Although the Australian life seems to be so similar to that in South Africa, with time new arrivals may, unfortunately, experience subtle differences and find that they remain the outsider. It may be the accent, misinterpretation of the Australian slang or unfamiliarity with the culture of classmates.
My own little ‘boerseun' had problems adapting to his new school here. He said he could speak English, but not the language the Australians speak. And, as happens with many, he had to spell his name every time he said it. We never imagined a simple thing like a common name may become an issue here because of the difficulty the Australians have to get their tongue around double vowels.
If you realise your child is unhappy it is crucial that he or she receives extra support and encouragement. Children who are facing such difficulties need a positive tool to help them negotiate life more easily and with joy and enthusiasm. They need constructive steps to guide them to stand up for themselves and to reinforce the belief that they can be successful and happy. If children learn to be assertive and change their thoughts from those full of fear and negativity to thoughts that are encouraging and empowering, they will be able to handle most life situations with ease and become a real Ozzie in no time.
As a result of the need to empower our children, there are programs that support children in embarking on a self-discovery journey that will help them to understand their emotions and interactions better. Such a journey also reinforces the idea that they can fulfill their dreams, function effectively and achieve personal, social and academic success.
You are not on your own here in a new country. There are resources available and it is sensible to find an individual or organisation, offering understanding and support, to assist you. You can change the course of your life and your children's lives for the better by empowering your child.
Helena Pretorius is a seasoned educator and the managing director and creator of educational programs for Empowering Lives, which is a home business that promotes self-development programs for children.