Expat children

Your Expat Child

If your child is a Third Culture Kid (TCK) they will have spent a significant part of their developmental years outside your culture.

They build relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any, although elements from each culture are assimilated. This can result in cultural identity confusion and a discomfort with settling in any one place for too long.

It is important to bear in mind that most TCKs benefit enormously from their childhood experience and are more likely (than non TCKs) to demonstrate the following:

• Multiple language skills
• A high degree of maturity and independence,
• Intercultural sensitivity,
• Expanded worldviews,
• Open-mindedness
• Cultural empathy
• 4 times more likely to have bachelor’s degrees compared to non-TCKs
• Highly adaptive
• Able to cross cultures with ease
• More empathetic
• Better communication skills
• Emotional intelligence

However, your child is faced with challenges such as:

• Sense of belonging
• Difficulty with commitment as friends, schools, and homes constantly change
• Crisis of identity or uncertainty of cultural identity
• Loss of relationships and community
• Feeling different from others
• A feeling that they have no control
• Unresolved grief

Who am I? This is a question asked by many Third Culture Kids. They have birth citizenship in one country but are growing up in one or many different countries. This leaves them with the feeling of not belonging to any single culture or place, as they are perceived as foreigners in the countries they are growing up in. Although searching for a place in the universe is part of the human condition, TCKs often develop an identity that is rooted in people rather than places.

Potential problems are more likely to emerge around the ages of nine or 10, when friendships become more central to your child’s identity, and especially during teenage years. Children can become withdrawn, isolating themselves from their classmates, or become angry, lashing out at those around them.


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