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EMOTIONAL

RESILIENCE
AND THE EXPAT CHILD
PRACTICAL TIPS AND STORYTELLING
TECHNIQUES THAT WILL STRENGTHEN
THE GLOBAL FAMILY

FOREWORD BY DOUG OTA


First Published Great Britain 2011
by Summertime Publishing

© Copyright Julia Simens

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,


stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in
any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying
recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the
publisher.
To Jacqueline and Grant,
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of
trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated You have taught me every day how to launch a child towards a
without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or
wonderful life. You educate me. I love you more than you will ever
cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar
condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent know.
purchaser.
May your lives be full of emotions and overloaded with joy, peace,
love and laughter.
ISBN 978-1-904881-34-6

Designed by creationbooth.com
Table of Contents STORY – Rough landing ..................................................Page 46
Strategies for expatriate families ......................................Page 50
Acknowledgments ............................................................Page 11
About the author ...............................................................Page 13 Chapter 2
Foreword ...........................................................................Page 15 Attaching to parents (and carers) .............Page 55

Introduction ..................................................... Page 19 Proximity - first stage to a strong connection ...................Page 55


Bond of an adult to a child ................................................Page 56
Developing the emotions every child needs .....................Page 19
Concept of opposites .........................................................Page 57
My family ........................................................................Page 19
Families adapt and change ................................................Page 58
Emotions are formed in the family unit ............................Page 21
Emotion language and culture ..........................................Page 58
Understanding the classification of emotions ...................Page 22
STORY – Debbie! .............................................................Page 60
Primary emotions ..............................................................Page 23
Facial expressions and reactions .......................................Page 63
Emotional dyads................................................................Page 23
The how did you feel game ...............................................Page 63
How children reach their potential ....................................Page 25
Four universal emotions....................................................Page 64
Language ...........................................................................Page 25
Seven universal facial expressions ...................................Page 65
The importance of attachment ..........................................Page 27
Bodily expressions of emotions ........................................Page 66
The six stages of attachment .............................................Page 27
Naming emotions ..............................................................Page 29
STORY - We have reached our cruising altitude now ......Page 29 Chapter 3
Benefits of reading our emotion stories ............................Page 32 Eight primary emotion stories .....................Page 71
Share your stories..............................................................Page 33
Sameness - second stage to a strong connection ...............Page 72
Chapter 1 The locations of the primary emotion stories ...................Page 72
Working with emotions Joy at Monkey Mia, Australia ...........................................Page 74
and understanding them .................................Page 37 Surprise at Aitutaki, Cook Islands ....................................Page 78
Anticipation in Luxor, Egypt ............................................Page 82
Identifying the language of emotions ...............................Page 38 Fear in Port Elizabeth, South Africa .................................Page 86
So many emotions .............................................................Page 40 Anger in the Chiang Mai Province, Thailand ...................Page 90
Understanding emotional intelligence (EQ) .....................Page 43 Disgust in Jakarta, Indonesia ............................................Page 94
A dictionary label for emotions.........................................Page 45 Trust on Koh Ra, Thailand ................................................Page 98
General principles for working with emotions .................Page 46 Sadness when friends leave school, worldwide ................Page 102
Chapter 4 Family rituals create closeness..........................................Page 173
Ten dyads ....................................................................Page 109 Story – Out of ashes come smiles .....................................Page 174
Family rituals can change and evolve over time ...............Page 176
Belonging - third stage to a strong connection .................Page 110 Do the Twain .....................................................................Page 177
Common language of emotions ........................................Page 111 Extension activities to try..................................................Page 178
Questions to ask your child about feelings .......................Page 112 Understanding the ups and downs ....................................Page 183
Dyad stories and their locations ........................................Page 113
Acceptance/submission in Lagos, Nigeria ........................Page 114 Chapter 6
Grief at Lake Tahoe, U.S.A...............................................Page 118 Taking action ! activities
Optimism in Duri, Indonesia.............................................Page 122 for your family"s stories ...............................Page 191
Disapproval at an international school..............................Page 126 Supporting your child’s understanding .............................Page 192
Awe at Angkor Wat, Cambodia .........................................Page 130 Getting started ...................................................................Page 193
Contempt at any location ..................................................Page 134 Best reasons for telling and sharing stories.......................Page 195
Aggressive in Leysin, Switzerland ...................................Page 138 Things to avoid when working together ...........................Page 196
Serenity in Russell Springs, U.S.A. ..................................Page 142 Joy .....................................................................................Page 199
Apprehension on Roatan, Honduras .................................Page 146 Surprise .............................................................................Page 204
Love anywhere you call home ..........................................Page 150 Anticipation.......................................................................Page 208
Fear ...................................................................................Page 212
Chapter 5 Anger.................................................................................Page 216
Explaining the importance Disgust ..............................................................................Page 220
of emotions to your child ..............................Page 157 Trust ..................................................................................Page 224
Sadness..............................................................................Page 228
Significance - fourth stage to a strong connection ..................Page 158 Acceptance ........................................................................Page 232
Creating an easy way to share ...........................................Page 158 Grief ..................................................................................Page 236
Giving your child an emotion model ................................Page 159 Optimism...........................................................................Page 240
Embarrassed, that’s me! ....................................................Page 160 Disapproval .......................................................................Page 244
Emotions start earlier than most parents believe .................Page 162 Awe ...................................................................................Page 248
Families have conflict .......................................................Page 163 Contempt ...........................................................................Page 252
Point of view .....................................................................Page 163 Aggression ........................................................................Page 256
Triggers need to be identified............................................Page 164 Serenity .............................................................................Page 260
Rituals are important .........................................................Page 169 Apprehension ....................................................................Page 264
STORY – At last a family ritual ........................................Page 170 Love ..................................................................................Page 268
Chapter 7 What do your actions teach your children?.......................Page 321
Tying it all together ! Show me what to do..........................................................Page 322
developing your family plan.................... Page 275 The importance of building emotion stories .....................Page 323
Dilemmas and debates on moral development .................Page 324
How to get everyone in the family involved .....................Page 275
Write emotion stories in your own language ....................Page 276
Human behavioral measurement.......................................Page 278 Chapter 9
Worldwide study on how people of all ages feel ..................Page 279 Conclusion ! when in doubt connect ........ Page 329
STORY – Mommy are you listening?...............................Page 280
Understanding your child..................................................Page 283 Attachment and expat children .........................................Page 329
Conflict between crackers and broccoli ............................Page 284 For grandparents ...............................................................Page 330
Recognizing visual cues from your parent........................Page 285 Risk factors for expat children ..........................................Page 332
Do we benefit from screen time? ......................................Page 287 Reflections on moving ......................................................Page 333
Caretakers and screen time ...............................................Page 288 The ability to repair...........................................................Page 335
Emotion knowledge adds protection.................................Page 289 Love - fifth stage to a strong connection ...........................Page 337
Your child’s narratives hold keys to support him.................Page 290
What this means for older children ...................................Page 292
STORY – Run boy run!.....................................................Page 293
Chapter 10
Three unique family plans ................................................Page 294
Closing comments ............................................. Page 339

Being known - sixth stage to a strong connection .................Page 339


Chapter 8 Emotion quotes to ponder .................................................Page 341
Dealing with hard emotions Useful resources ................................................................Page 344
with your own children ............................... Page 309 Must reads if you are raising an expat ..............................Page 344
Julia’s list for children....................................................... Page 347
Why anger is a hot topic ...................................................Page 309 Excellent web sites............................................................Page 348
STORY – I’m not angry, I’m mad ....................................Page 311 Selected bibliography........................................................Page 349
Body and impulse control is important .............................Page 315
STORY – Count, Blow, Count, Blow ...............................Page 316
Recognize the target of your anger ...................................Page 318
What things change ...........................................................Page 319
Depression is an alarming topic ........................................Page 320
Acknowledgments
The writing of this book has been a wonderful experience and would
not have come to fruition without the help of some exceptional
people in my life.

I want to thank Jo Parfitt for guiding me through the whole process


from helping me see my vision to completion of this book.

I also want to acknowledge all the educators and parents with whom
I have worked over the past 20 years. I have learned so much from
each one of you and have tried to share some of our experiences
in this book. Thank you for loving and protecting all children and
helping them grow into their unique potential. You are guardians for
our children’s innate emotional well-being. I always describe the
feeling parents and teachers have about wanting the best for their
children as ‘passionate’. If we really want to build on the passionate
feelings of love we have for our children, we need to think of how
we want them to most successfully live the rest of their lives.

I want to thank my extended family and friends for all the support
and ‘grounding’ back to the U.S.A. they have given me over
the years.

Last, I want to thank Kevin Simens, who is responsible for giving


our family a global perspective. Relocating and intercultural living
involves many issues regarding our identity, communication,
parenting decisions, and adjustments to new environments. We
learned to live passionately and love our children wholeheartedly.

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About the author

Julia Simens is an educator, consultant, and presenter with a


focus on international relocation. This has kept Julia coming and
going from the U.S.A. for over 20 years. She has worked on five
continents with families who are relocating all over the world. With
a focus on family therapy and early childhood education, she has
helped many children and families adjust to their global lifestyle.
She has worked with many embassies, multi national companies,
and youth groups. She is a member of the American Psychological
Association. Julia connects with children of all ages. Parents look
for her for guidance because she has survived seven international
moves and has raised her own two children overseas. She offers
parents in cyberspace on-going support. She is a frequent speaker at
educational and business conferences and has been cited in various
family publications including The Street !etwork, AOL Travel and
Family Goes Strong. Julia works in international schools where she
offers children and parents individual sessions and the opportunity
to grow and she conducts parent seminars as well.

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Foreword

You might deserve a compliment.

But there’s a problem: the person or persons who might pay you that
compliment one day are simply too young to do so now.

So let me try to do so on their behalf.

The fact that you are reading—or are considering reading—this


book launches you into a different category of parent. You may be
about to embark on a practical journey that is likely to change your
child’s or children’s future development in a potentially profound
way. Why?

Because you might be about to equip yourself with the skills to do


a better job with that most important of human tasks: the raising
of children who understand themselves. The ability to understand
one’s self resides at the foundation of being able to truly understand
anybody else—including one’s own children. And this can only
mean that you are about to unpack a gift that your child or children
will benefit from. And their children. And so on.

I am fully aware that these are large claims. But think about it: how
many hours did you go to school to earn your high school diploma?
Or to earn your first college degree? Or to study to become an
engineer, or an artist, or a lawyer, doctor, or diplomat?

And yet how many hours do most parents spend getting trained to
become “parents”?

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Around the world, in every presentation after presentation that I This, then, is a book that can contribute to the climate in families’
have given and in parenting group after parenting group that I have living rooms, as well as that between nations.
led, the answer is usually simple: none. Apart from the way their
own parents raised them, the vast majority of parents never get any Few parenting books that I have ever encountered have ever broken
specific training for a job that is arguably as challenging—if not the skill of understanding feelings into such easily digestible and
imminently practical steps that any parent can apply. No book
at times far more challenging—than engineering, law, medicine, or
has ever done so with the special issues of an expatriate or mobile
diplomacy. In fact, kids are expert at finding exactly those areas of
population in mind.
their parents’ “training” that were somehow left undone, generally
because of issues of their own upbringing. And kids hone in on those
Julia’s book does both, and does so beautifully.
areas like hawks. (The theory I often share in my own consulting
room on why kids do this is simple: kids want “whole” parents, and
Julia has taken her own expatriate experiences as a mother of her
they push on these unfinished areas in an existential quest to push
two children, Jacqueline and Grant, and woven them together into
their parents to get “completed”.)
a story about emotions that tours the world and leaves the reader
feeling whole. Her soothing, maternal voice massages the reader,
So reading any good book on parenting places the reader, in my
page after page, bedside after bedside, linking new homes in new
definition at least, in the elite. Your choice of Julia Simens’ book
countries into a coherent whole that feels quintessentially centered.
places you in a special category of that elite.
The reader is placed in a most privileged and intimate position:
being able to listen to the bedside stories of a mother to her child.
Why? Because Julia takes you to the heart of what this most And in the repetition of those stories, month after month, in new
important of human tasks, namely parenting, is all about: emotions. bedroom after new bedroom, Julia shows the reader—rather than
This is no “soft” or “emotional” claim. Nor is this is a “soft” book. merely “telling” us—what safe human attachment sounds like. Her
Consider it the “basic training” that most parents skip. If a child is voice becomes her children’s portable home.
ever going to understand him or herself, he or she is going to have
to master the signals that his or her own body transmits, signals that And so it is perhaps only fitting that I, as a man, get an opportunity
warn him or her that “something is up”. This sounds easy, but it is to compliment that voice and to make an appeal to the other half of
not. In fact, in addition to the compliment I paid you on your child Julia’s potential readers, i.e. the fathers of the world. Gentlemen,
or children’s behalf, let me also issue a warning: “understanding this is not only a book for mothers. Every human born into this world
ourselves” is a skill that verges on art, and one that only a minority has the same emotional “equipment”, instilled through millions of
of the human population ever truly masters. Not understanding years of evolution and refinement. Men, too, must find their voice
ourselves lies at the root of not being able to understand the other, in modeling for their children how they understand that equipment
and not being able to understand the other resides at the root of all and their resultant feelings. This is not only a woman’s work. A
human conflict. home, after all, has more than one entrance.

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Enjoy the journey of reading Julia’s book. Someday your children Introduction
will thank you.
Developing the emotions every child needs
Drs. Douglas W. Ota
NIP Child Psychologist The only thing you can be sure you can move around the world is
March, 2011 your child’s ability to thrive. In order to do this you need to help your
The Hague, Netherlands children build up their interpersonal skills. Emotions are common in
all languages and all cultures. As a parent, you can help your child
build his or her emotional and basic social skills and you can do this
in any location of the world. Using a wide range of emotions and
the ability to understand when and why to use them are important
for all children.

By the age of five children should be able to identify and relate to


a wide variety of emotions. To illustrate this I have taken stories
from our own travels and connected an emotion to each event that I
will share with you in this book. My goal is to allow you to use this
book as a tool that will help you to connect with your own child or
children and to use it to build on their vocabulary of emotions.

My family

We are a family of four that hold U.S.A. passports but have not
lived in the U.S.A. for most of our lives. I first went overseas as an
elementary teacher then returned home for more education. I met
Kevin who had also worked overseas but was back in the U.S.A.
with his company. We married and started a life overseas again
as soon as we could. In 1991, Jackie, our daughter, was born in
Perth, Australia and three years later Grant was born. In our life of
moving around it was amazing to have the same doctor for both of
our children’s births. This might have been the only consistent thing
they have ever shared in their lives.

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Plutchik’s Three-Dimensional Model of Emotions Children of the World

All !emotion photos! in Emotio


nal Resilience
and the Expat Child were tak
en by their peers
when they were exploring a uni
t of Inquiry on
"How we express our selves"#

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Chapter Three

Eight primary emotion stories

This chapter contains short stories that take place in a variety of


locations. The emotions are described in these short stories. Then
it covers why the location is so unique. Some of these stories were
from Jackie’s experiences around the world and some were from
Grant’s. In order to make it more predictable for young children to
read or understand, I have made each story be about a boy called
Jack. How you choose to read this book to your child depends on
your child’s age.

If you are reading to a two or three-year-old, sit with them in your


lap or lie down next to each other. Let them hear your voice acting
out Jack’s words and his mother’s words with two different voices.
Let him see the pattern in the stories.

If you are reading to a four or five-year-old, you can ask them if they
know what is coming next. You can take turns being Jack and repeat
his words after they are read. You can also do as suggested above.

If you are reading with an older child, ask him what he would like
to do. How would he like the story to be read? Would he like you
to read the dictionary and location page and he could read the story
page?

See if your child can take some of their own experiences and place
them into our emotion stories. Most children can relate to other
children. Ask your child, “When did you feel like Jack?”

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Sameness – Second Stage to a Strong Connection

When you and your child have something in common,


whether it is a fondness for a food, a sports team, or working
on this memory book, you’re strengthening your attachment
through ‘sameness’.

The locations of the primary emotion stories

The expatriate lifestyle usua


lly allows
fa milies to live or travel to
unique
location s! Talking to your ch
ild about
his experiences will help expa
nd his
emotional voca bulary!

Our initial eight stories take place around the world. I will be
taking you to Australia, the Cook Islands, and Egypt, where you
will experience joy, surprise, and anticipation. Then you are off to
South Africa, Thailand, and Indonesia to experience fear, anger and
disgust. Since many of our emotion stories revolve around the stories
of children in international schools, please note that international
schools can be in any location in the world. You will experience
sadness at one international school. The expatriate lifestyle usually
allows families to go to live in unique locations and it builds on
geographical skills due to the ability to travel on relocation and
during vacation time.

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Joy

Oxford English Dictionary

1. A vivid emotion of pleasure arising from a sense of well-


being or satisfaction; the feeling or state of being highly
pleased or delighted; exultation of spirit; gladness, delight.

2. The expression of glad feeling; outward rejoicing; mirth;


jubilant festivity.

3. A source or object of joy; that which causes joy, or in which


delight is taken; a delight.

For a young child: Your face is really, really happy.


You feel wonderful. You might even want to dance.
This is joy.

Geography

You can experience joy while swimming with the dolphins at


Monkey Mia. Monkey Mia is a remote spot geographically; it lies
on a long, thin peninsula within Shark Bay in Western Australia.
The water is warm and absolutely beautiful. As you stand in knee-
deep water, wild dolphins come right up to the white shell beach and
swim around you. Wild dolphins have been coming to Monkey Mia
for over 50 years. It is the only place where dolphins visit daily, not
seasonally, and it is free. It is a World Heritage landmark. If you are
lucky you might get to swim with a mother dolphin and her calf.

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Joy “More than you will ever know,” she says as she smiles and kisses
him good night.
The evening ritual begins. The sun starts to set and Jack rubs his
eyes. As Jack and his mom start the short walk across the beach to He just smiles and snuggles down in bed pulling the covers up
their beachfront villa, she asks him, “What was your day like?” towards his chin.

“Let me think about it,” Jack grabs her hand, looks up with a smile “Mommy, I love mommy and baby dolphins.
and continues the walk. Good night, Mom.”

“How was your day?” she leans over and asks again as he snuggles “Good night, Jack.”
into his bed.

“Mommy, I had a good day today. What should I dream about


tonight?”

“Dream about what you experienced today,” she softly says as she
leans closer and smoothes his pillow.

“Mommy, I am thinking about all the joy I saw today. I am going


to dream about that baby dolphin and how he stayed so close to his
mother. I am going to remember the smiles on everyone’s faces as
the mommy dolphin swam right up so close to you. I will remember
their joy when they realized that the dolphin picked you to swim with
because both of you were having a baby. I am going to remember my
joy when I saw you with the mommy dolphin and how you laughed
and played with her. I am going to remember how much joy I had
when I got to touch a baby dolphin. Mommy, that is what I am going
to dream about.”

“Do you know how much I love you?”

“You love me a lot.”

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Surprise To travel to Aitutaki, you have to fly from New Zealand to Rarotanga
and then take a small plane or boat to this unique island. Its nearest
Oxford English Dictionary neighbors are Tahiti to the east and American Samoa to the west.

1. The (or an) act of assailing or attacking unexpectedly


or without warning, or of taking by this means; sudden
attack or capture of a fort, a body of troops, etc. that is
unprepared.

2. The (or an) act of coming upon one unexpectedly, or of


taking unawares; a sudden attack.

3. Something that takes one by surprise; an unexpected


occurrence or event; anything unexpected or astonishing.

For a young child: You didn’t know! It made you laugh. Your body
feels excited. You are surprised.

Geography

You can experience surprise when a Picasso fish nibbles your finger
at Aitutaki. Aitutaki is one of the fifteen islands in the heart of the
South Pacific that make up the Cook Islands. It is a magnificent
and remote island that consists of three volcanoes and twelve
coral islets. Not only is Aitutaki an interesting place, the fish are
interesting. The Picasso triggerfish have one of the longest names
in the world. They are called Hu-mu-hu-mu nu-ku nu-ku-a pu-a-a.
This is a Hawaiian name that means ‘fish with a pig-nosed face’.
These fish enjoy the shallower waters inside the reef where there are
lots of rocks and crevices to hide in and search for food. They can
be very aggressive.

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