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RESOURCES, TOOLS, AND COMMUNITY FOR PARENTS OF THIRD CULTURE KIDS
(So you can be confident you're not screwing them up!)
Ever wondered how your third culture kids can become as resilient as Elastigirl from the Incredibles? We definitely have! No matter how hard we try to avoid it, hardship such as loss and grief is inevitable, especially for a TCK. At KLDSCP, we believe that a TCK’s resilience allows them to thrive in even the most precarious of circumstances. We’ve found a few tools to be especially helpful in empowering kids to build resilience and process tough experiences well, and we hope you find success with them, too:
Acknowledge past losses and prepare for future ones, no matter how big or small. If a TCK wants to work through hard emotions and experiences, we dive into the mess with them. If they are grieving the loss of something relatively small or inconsequential, we give that equal airtime. We discuss past and current losses insofar as they are part of their stories, and teach them the tools to say healthy goodbyes. Talking about loss helps us process our experiences and avoids unresolved grief further down the road, resulting in a greater ability to recover after future losses, a.k.a. resilience.
Give them language. A big part of helping TCKs learn resilience is by talking about emotions. Learning to express both negative and positive emotions is key to living a life of resilience. We aim to continue to expand your TCKs’ emotional vocabulary and teach them to identify their feelings!
Make connections. Friendships for children and teens teaches them essential life skills, such as empathy and compassion. Because of a TCK’s highly mobile lifestyle, making new connections can sometimes feel hard or scary. It is essential to encourage TCKs to remain present and make friends, even if it is only for a week; value the practice of learning how to connect with others around us, even if it means risking another goodbye.
Be an example. Tell your own stories and share appropriate emotions with the TCKs in your life. Hearing others’ experiences helps TCKs understand that they are not alone, and feel connected. Feeling connected is an essential part of building resilience.
Listen to their stories! When TCKs get to tell their stories, they can make sense of their world and connect with those who listen their life journey—even if they’re just 5 years old. Processing their experiences through reflection and sharing develops their emotional resilience as they continue on their paths. Wait until next month where we will dive more into personal storytelling.
Josh Sandoz is an adult third culture kid and Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with TCKs. In this podcast you will hear more about Josh's story, challenges that TCKs face, and how you can help your kids develop emotional resilience as they grow up in between cultures.