Many expat families coming to live and work in Thailand will have children of all ages. Children in general love Thailand. The warm weather, year-round swimming, fruit, animals, colorful taxis, and beautiful parks capture their excitement. However, there is always the possibility that older children may begin to miss their homeland and the sparkle in their eyes diminishes. Here are some tips for raising expat kids in Thailand so that you can keep their spirits high during their stay.
Raising kids in Thailand depends on the situation. There are expat families who, because of a job, move to Thailand with their kids who were born in a western country. Expats don’t just come from western countries either. There are many expat Korean, Japanese, Indian, Filipino, and Chinese families here as well. For these families, the children, depending on their ages, may or may not miss things back in their homeland.
For expat families who come from non-English speaking countries, one of the challenges for younger children will be educating them in their native language as well as English so that they can attend an international school in Thailand. For example, many Korean families live in Bangkok because of the husband’s employer. At some time in the future, these families will return to Korea and their children will need to be able to assimilate back into their native culture. Typically, what you will see are Korean mother’s teaching their young children how to read and write the Korean language.
Focus on the Positive
One way of keeping kids happy in Thailand is to always point out the good things about living here. While this may be obvious, it’s easy to forget when something is not done the way it would be back home. For small children, memories of their home country are vague so adapting to Thailand is relatively easy. For older children, the opposite is sometimes true.
It takes a little creativity to find the good things about living here and convincing your child of such. For instance, your child might miss his favorite cereal which cannot be found in the local grocery stores. You may have to spend a little more and go to a grocery store that specializes in imported goods such as the Villa Market.
Learning New Things
One thing you will notice about Thailand is that children are learning something all of the time. You can see this on a typical Saturday or Sunday afternoon in a McDonald’s restaurant filled with tutors and children getting extra help on homework or Thai children learning English. Shopping malls are filled with schools that teach cooking, web design, art, piano, singing, and an array of other extracurricular skills. Try to encourage your child to learn something new and it will build his self-esteem, provide opportunities to make new friends, and occupy free time.
Depending on how long you live in Thailand, the day might come when your child graduates from high school and will be going off to college. More than likely, he will return to his homeland for his higher education. By keeping the traditions of your native country, your child will fit right back in to his native culture. This means you should recognize the holidays of your home country even if they are not recognized in Thailand. For example, Thanksgiving is an American holiday but not mentioned much at all in Thailand. So, if you are an American expat family, you will do well by following the tradition of the Thanksgiving meal.
International schools are really the best for expat children in Thailand. This is simply because your children will be able to speak English and make friends with others who speak the same. Most of the teachers come from western lands or other countries where mastery of English is typical. In international schools, your child will retain his or her identity with his native country.
What You are Giving Your Children
What may not be obvious now will someday be a reality for your children who had the privilege of living in a foreign land. This will be especially true if you have children of high school age. As mentioned before, your kids graduating from high school in Thailand will more than likely return to their homeland to attend college. When they return to their homeland, they will make new friends who will be fascinated with your child’s history of living abroad. This is especially true with Thailand which has been a young backpacker’s paradise for decades.