How to help a child adapt to a new place if you have become a forced migrant

Since February 24, millions of Ukrainian women have grabbed their children and left their homes in the unknown. And they constantly move from region to region, from country to country, looking for safety and shelter. It is hard to say to whom forced relocation is more difficult - mothers or children. But the task of mothers is to help the little ones to adapt to new places more easily. Iryna Basista, a psychologist of the "Unbreakable Mom" project from the "Masha FUND", advises how to do it.

Our children are emotionally dependent on us, so the most important thing is to take care of yourself first, as this will make the child’s adaptation much easier.


– Children are much more flexible than adults, so in most cases, it is easier for them to adapt to a new place or new circumstances, – says psychologist Iryna Basista. – But the support of adults during adaptation is necessary. Acceptance of changes requires an additional resource, which, unfortunately, is not available now: it needs preparation, time, the emotional stability of adults, and so on.


The psychologist made a list of tips for the mothers of forced migrants. So, to reduce the child’s anxiety and tension during adaptation, you should know the following things:


  1. It is necessary to familiarize yourself with the area and general rules. Therefore, if the child, if possible, can visit different institutions with you, it will help with adaptation;
  2. If you plan to relocate, also warn the child, or already after the relocation, explain to them what happened and why;
  3. Be consistent: tell what you are doing and your immediate plans. For example, “in the fall, you will go to this school, it will be online or offline, and on occasion, I will introduce you to the teacher”;
  4. If you have a teenager, encourage them in the process of solving various household issues: pick up a certificate or get it, and fill out a document. Ask for opinions, and participate in decision-making.
  5. Support and help a child cope with their emotions and feelings: “it’s normal to be afraid, I’m with you and on your side; I see your sadness and sympathize that you cannot see your friends.”
  6. Remember that it is difficult for the child as they can be more emotional and vulnerable, so your acceptance of different emotions will help the child to live and cope with them.
  7. Ask them how they feel and what you can do for them out of the possible, and offer support options.


Also, watch and listen to your children and take care of yourself – all this will help the whole family better adapt to new conditions.


The “Unbreakable Mom” rehabilitation program has been developed by specialists in psychology and post-traumatic syndromes for women and children affected by war. It is a 3-week offline camp, where psychologists work with project participants, and then online support for three months.

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