Expat Child Syndrome: 10 Signs and How To help Your Child

Expat Child Syndrome is commonly shortened as ECS. It is a term that is used by psychologists to describe children suffering from emotional stress as a result of moving abroad. Children of all ages become victims of Expat Child syndrome but the adolescence tends to suffer the most. When going through life changes while living abroad, teenagers rely heavily on their peers for support. Children face many difficulties in leaving their close circle of friends and family of their home country. 

In this article, we will discuss some of the common signs that will help you to identify that your kid is going through emotional distress and facing difficulties while living abroad. Furthermore, we will suggest the expert tips to help you to overcome this situation. 

Signs of Expat child Syndrome

1. Drastic mood changes

While moving abroad, children find it hard to express themselves which results in drastic mood changes. Observe the informal bad moods or check out if your child is facing some difficulty in bringing out a smile. You will find it difficult to find out the reason for frustration as it may be because your little one is tired or hungry. But, try to observe deeply and find out the reason why your little one is showing moody behavior. 

2. Hitting and Biting

When children fail to express their emotions in words, they often use hitting and biting methods to show their frustration and anger. Whenever you observe such methods in your children, understand that they are really feeling stressed about something but are unable to express it. Again try to understand this behavior more deeply as children feel the blackness of change more as compared to adults. 

3. Sleeping issues

Children’s brains process a lot of information. This can create a mess with normal sleeping patterns. Five years old kid feels more comfortable in his bed. But in another place, your kid can start coming to your bed at midnight. Sleep apnoea, bedwetting, co-sleeping, or sleepwalking can give you the signs that your child is stressed and needs your extra support. 

4. Abnormal attachment to the parents

The new location can change the whole world of the child dramatically. They may show excessive attachment to one or both parents in a desire for familiarity. You will also observe a clingy behavior in your children that doesn’t let them go away from you or maybe they begin to cry at school time. These are all the signs of stress that parents can overcome by understanding.

5. Behavioral changes

Behavioral changes get worse in children while moving abroad. They may find it difficult to eat healthy foods or could not get enough sleep. 

6. Seclusion 

You may notice that your highly extroverted children isolate themselves since you have moved abroad. 

7. Loneliness

Children feel more alone in their new home and often complain about it to their parents. Try to notice that are they successful in finding a new friend to spend their free time?

8. Disruptive behaviour

You will notice that your children get uncooperative and are more disruptive. Your well-behaved children may become disruptive at school, neighbors, or even at home.  

9. Signs of depression

You will observe that your children are staying at home alone and do not communicate with others. This kind of behavior keeps him depressed the whole day. 

10. Irritability 

Irritability is a normal part of childhood, but kids grow the signs of it while moving abroad. Children often become fussy at that time which is a major sign of irritability. 

How can you help a child to overcome Expat child syndrome?

The role of parents is very important to overcome the symptoms of Expat child syndrome. Parents are required to communicate with their kids when they observe that their kids are experiencing difficulties while moving abroad.

Here are some tips for the parents to help a child struggling with Expat child syndrome. 


Start to plan before time and inform your kids from the day you are planning to move abroad. Explain everything to your child so that he can assimilate it, such as we are planning to move, when we will move, to which country, every detail and reasons to move abroad. Showing confidence to your kids is very important for their mental health. Besides, when you move abroad, listen carefully and acknowledge the difficulties that your children are facing. Do not ever ignore them as normal kids. 

Positive social interaction

Encourage your children to find new opportunities to interact with other kids if they are finding it difficult to make new friends. You can motivate them to join extracurricular activities outside as well as inside their school. Parents can help them to try a new activity or some sport. Introduce your kids to art and sport activities. Let them visit the main interactions, and prepare excursions and walks. Allow them to visit new friends and receive visits at your home. In this way, your children will find people of their age with similar interests and can be good friends outside their school. 

Find a balance

Parents can help their children to find a balance and keep in touch with their friends at home too. You can help them in making a video call on Skype with their friends. This will ease them into their new life abroad. Besides, help out your children to maintain contact with old friends through video calls or messages. 


Hopefully, now you will have a better understanding of Expat Child Syndrome, what it is, its symptoms, and the ways to overcome it. A lot of children suffer from it when they relocate. No one can prevent it, but, you can use the above ways to identify and overcome it to help your children have a comfortable and happy move. 

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