Moving with Teens with The Teen Confidence Coach
Moving abroad with teens - again!
As my most downloaded podcast episode last season was about moving abroad with teenagers, I thought it was a good time to bring in an expert!
So, this is an absolute mega-episode, where I have brought in the wonderful Emma Cochrane, Teen Confidence Coach.
The wisdom and insight she has about this age group of children is astounding. Even if you don't have teens yet, you soon will do! You will be even better placed to prepare your children to move overseas with confidence.
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[00:00:00.000] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Welcome aboard the Expatability Chat Podcast, helping expat parents navigate moving and living overseas with their families. With Carole Hallett Mobbs, Expat Life Mentor and consultant and founder of ExpatChild.com. I'm Carole, your resident expat expert, and I'm here to help you live the expat life you dream about and deserve.
If you're planning a move abroad or if you're already living your expat life, or even if you're planning a move back home, you've come to the right place. In this podcast, I'll offer you experienced insight, sensible advice, and practical information, along with some sugar-free, no bullshit tips and tricks to help you on your way so that you and your children can live your expat experience to the full. There are so many layers to this expat life that you need to know about, but often you don't know what you need to know, and that's what I aim to help you with, because knowledge is power, and I want you to have the best expat experience you possibly can. So let's get straight into today's episode.
[00:01:17.840] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Just a quick message before I launch into the topic of this particular podcast episode. I want to thank all of you listeners, all of my Expateers, and you fabulous people who have taken the Expatability Chat Podcast to over 10,000 downloads. You have made my year. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
This episode, which is the final one of Season 2, is an absolute doozy because I am thrilled to be able to interview a teen confidence coach, Emma Cochrane, who can tell you what goes on in a teenager's mind and what you need to know before you move overseas with them. If you don't have a teenager yet, listen to it anyway because you will learn some incredible information that will help you with your child from now until adulthood, I promise you. Thank you for sticking with me. I hope there'll be a season three, but as you can hear, my voice still isn't right after my operation last year.
[00:02:23.460] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
And life keeps throwing curveball after curveball at me, and I need to take a break pretty much for my own sanity. I do need to find it first though. I may decide to come back with a season three next year, but let's just leave it on a high for now. And again, thank you so much for being with me. Please find me wherever you can on the internet. I am everywhere. Okay, in this very special episode of Expatability Chat Podcast, I am thrilled to welcome Emma Cochrane.
[00:02:59.900] - Emma Cochrane
I'm thrilled to be here.
[00:03:02.370] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Emma is a teenager expert. As the most downloaded podcast episode I've ever had is moving abroad with teens. What better way to get some expert insight into the teenage brain than to talk to a teenage expert? First of all, Emma, please can you introduce yourself?
[00:03:22.960] - Emma Cochrane
I'd love to. Thanks so much for having me, Carole. It's been a bit of a journey getting to this point, hasn't it, with the both of us? I am thrilled to be here. I am a team confidence coach, and I am particularly passionate about young girls, girls and young women. However, I have a real affinity, teenagers and tweens. The reason that I have that affinity is because I feel like when I was a teenager, I was like the unseen. I wasn't naughty, I didn't have additional needs. I masked and I dealt with a lot of stuff that was quite heavy for me, and I got on with it. Because of that, I made choices in life that perhaps I shouldn't have. But it allows me to really connect with young people and intuitively see when someone is masking a worry, a problem, a challenge, and particularly the girls that feel like they don't fit into those stereotypical societal groups at school. I help girls to really find confidence in connecting with who they are and appreciating the qualities that they have as an individual rather than following the ground. I've been doing that for… I've been working with young people for about 20 years in different roles.
[00:04:41.290] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
That's absolutely amazing. I completely understand the whole quiet, trying to hide, which isn't easy when you're six-foot tall. But yeah, it is something. I do believe that a lot of children, let's just use the term children, tend to say what their parents want them to say. Not every teenager goes through the rebellious stage. They go through, perhaps, as you say, a masking stage, which can then come back to bite them in the bum later on.
[00:05:17.480] - Emma Cochrane
Yes. Like a people-pleasing phase, really. If you remind me, it leads perfectly into a conversation I was having with a team yesterday on that exact same topic. I'm glad that I had that conversation because I can bring it.
[00:05:31.960] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
I will try and remember. Let's go linear with this. As the adult, as the parent, you're planning a move overseas, whether that is for your own choice or you're moving overseas on a contract for work. You're 13, 14-year-old, or even younger, frankly, high school age. How do you discuss the move beforehand? So you've got to tell them that you're moving.
[00:05:59.680] - Emma Cochrane
I would say if this is like a definite, is happening and they don't have a choice, it's tricky because ultimately, you're the adult and you're making that decision or not, as the case may be, it might be that your work has made that decision for you in terms of the move. But I would say that at any stage, kids aren't stupid, they'll see straight through you. Try and tell them as soon as possible that the move is on the horizon. Because they will see your behaviours, they'll see you're trying to hide things when you're secretly looking at emails or having coded phone calls. Tell them as soon as possible is the first thing so that they can process what that could mean for them. Now, I say that with a caveat that every child obviously is very different. For example, my daughter, who's seven, she doesn't like transitions in any case. So anytime we have to tell her anything, we have to tell her near to the time that it's happening so that we don't then have this massive fallout for weeks before. So whoever's listening, you'll know your own child and you'll know, in a general sense, what works best for them, but tell them as soon as possible.
[00:07:16.530] - Emma Cochrane
What I would also suggest is that give them some control over the situation. So whether that be about having some say about the accommodation that you might be moving to, about when it might happen, like if there's a buffer time, because they're going to need time to process, they also are going to need as much information as you can possibly give them so that they can paint a picture of what it might be like. If you've got videos to show them, if you've got pictures to show them, you can get 360 views of schools now. They have those online so that in their mind, they feel like they're making an informed decision, even though that decision has already been made for them. They can paint a picture of how their life might be. The other thing I would say is you might have a teen that point-blank refuses to go. That's quite possible. In which case, if you have someone that they can hang back with, at least in the first instance, have that as an option. Because what you don't want is to have this elephant in the room, which is them not wanting to go, and you having to go, that creates a tension and a conflict.
[00:08:35.690] - Emma Cochrane
It's a sensitive time anyway. You don't need that added pressure. Honestly, as a teen, you think you know what you're doing, you think you know what's best for you. And as adults, we will try and take control of what's best for them. And it is a delicate line because they do need nurturing and they do need guiding and they do need boundaries and things like that. But we also have to respect how they feel and how decisions will affect them. Remember that as a teenager, your influence comes directly from your peers. And someone explained this to me beautifully, and I use it now all the time, that when you're a teenager, you live in a pipe. Imagine being in a big old clean sewer pipe, a massive one. Your influence comes in from left and right, and you look left and right, and that's all you see. It's your friends to the left, your friends to the right. When you're a small child, your influence is upward like a tree. So you look up to grownups, your parents, your older siblings, your cousins, your grandparents, and you aspire to that so that your viewpoint is greater, you can see further up, and so that your influence is wider.
[00:09:56.810] - Emma Cochrane
When you hit teen age, you stop looking up at the tree. You don't want to look up at the tree anymore because it is of no reference to you. It's no significance. Why would I want to look up to my mum or dad? They're so old. They're so insignificant. So maybe getting a reference point from a teenage perspective would help you in having the conversation with the teenagers. What I mean by that is, perhaps try and find other parents who have teens that have already moved abroad that they can talk to. You're not trying to get them on side. You're trying to get them to understand what the experience might mean for them so that they're not just going along with it blindly. You know what I mean? They need to feel like they're part of that process as much as possible. Certainly, getting insight from another peer, even someone that's slightly older, a couple of years would absolutely benefit them, because then you're almost getting their peers to tell them what they need to hear. At that point, they're not listening to you. They don't care about your job. They don't care about what you think is best for them.
[00:11:07.300] - Emma Cochrane
What they care about is what's best for them and what is going to affect their social life. That's all they care about. So if you can get them to see and hear from another teenager who perhaps felt like them, was resistant, didn't want to go, didn't want to leave their friends, but has moved, has found challenges, because it ain't going to be easy, breezy. They need to know the realness of it. But as a result, has found a really solid social group that they now feel really part of, that they can explore their interests in, whether it be skateboarding, graffiti, music, theater, whatever it might be, finding pockets. You've just got to think outside of the box. Think about what they need to hear and how they need to hear.
[00:11:53.290] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Absolutely. I love that analogy, the pipe.
[00:11:57.040] - Emma Cochrane
It's really good, isn't it? It really is. It's so good because it makes perfect sense. Because if you've got a pipe, the top of the pipe here, physically, you can't look up. Actually, in terms of their brain development and the developments they're going through physiologically, it's not like they don't want to look up. We are geared to look this way at that time of our life, rather than try and ignore that and go, Oh, that's rubbish. Lean into it and use it to your advantage, is what I would say.
[00:12:26.870] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Yeah, that's absolutely brilliant. I'm completely mind-blown. I wish I'd met you years ago. Because a lot of the reasons that the adults give is, we want to move overseas for a better life, or a better life for our children, for a better life for our teenagers. But the parents' idea of a better life is not the same as a teenagers. The teenager wants to stay with their friends, with their peers, with—and I say this a lot, with the familiar. Moving away from the familiar is hard for everybody. It's even harder for children. It's even harder for teenagers. The whole family is moving out of their comfort zone, away from everything that's familiar, especially if there's a country with a different language. As adults, we can make an informed choice, but the kids don't have that choice.
[00:13:22.600] - Emma Cochrane
No. I think as well, what we tend to forget a lot, and we just say, we're just not rubbish it, but we blow over it or rush it. They're just hormonal. No, they're going through significant changes to their bodies, to their minds. A lot of the time, they feel completely out of control inside their own body and inside their own mind. They don't know what's happening with their moods. They don't know what's happening with their skin. For girls, they have periods, they go through the menstrual cycle. To then shake the stability of their home of where they, like you say, feel comfortable, where things are similar and familiar, is going to make them feel completely out of whack. So all of that has to be considered because it's a fact. It's a scientific fact. You cannot get over the fact that their bodies are changing, their minds are changing. And if you look at the hierarchy of needs, that is one of the first needs, is to feel safe and secure in your environment. As children, they are children, they're going through significant changes.
[00:14:35.690] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Yes, I like what you said about if they don't want to move, if you have an alternative option. There are a few people I know that have moved usually to the UK, but to maybe their home country. I'm thinking of somebody in Germany here, but also several others. With the UK, the education system is set up that they are on a pathway to the all-important GCSE exams. Not all countries run that, I should add my international listeners. But for the UK, if you're moving to the UK or back to the UK, it is really important that they stay in that linear ladder for the school years. Whether that means you don't move, but your partner does, for your child's mental health and future, it may be better not to move at all. You may think that you're going into, say, a British school overseas, but they're very different. Very different indeed. A lot of people I know have actually stayed put for the entire high school, secondary school years, so that their child has a continuity of education. Another aspect that some people do is put their child into boarding school for those all important years. But we're not here to talk about education as such. It's just emphasising the stability and the fact that there are alternatives.
[00:16:04.650] - Emma Cochrane
Absolutely. I think as well, it also leans into really doing your homework before you make that choice. Again, if the choice has been made for you because it's your place of employment that is moving you, still do your homework, still look at like you've just touched on, just because it's a UK school does not mean for one second that the curriculum and the way that they do exams is the same as how we do it here and would transfer in the same way in terms of grades. And you're absolutely right. Whatever you think of the education system as it stands in the UK and however your child interacts and engages in school or not, that stability for them is really important in knowing that as a 14-year-old, if they move away and even come back three years later, that they can have the same GCSE standard as their peers who they will get back in contact with won't make them feel completely outcast. Do you know what I mean? I mean, it might be that the standard of education is way better in the country that they're moving to. But in terms of what opportunities they might have moving back, going into the wider world, into the employment and higher education system, is really important to know before you go abroad.
[00:17:29.530] - Emma Cochrane
Because, again, that's their life. We've had our education. And what we need to understand and really not overlook is that once our children get to 16, their education, their life in terms of their direction is theirs; theirs alone. They make that choice to go to college and where they go to college and what they do and what they do at university and all of that jazz. If we're taking that away from them as well as their social life, their friends, their stability, then what you're looking at there is a real disconnect in your relationship as parent and child. That is something that you don't want.
[00:18:09.960] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
No, because it can be very hard to get it back again.
[00:18:12.350] - Emma Cochrane
Absolutely, yeah. Because you mentioned already, it's a very delicate time, and then to add on moving abroad, it could be catastrophic for your relationship, and that's not what you want.
[00:18:25.630] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
No. Something I mentioned in the podcast about moving abroad with teens, it's down to, as well, moving for the very first time. Because many, many teens just sail through this because they're used to moving. They moved when they were five, they moved when they were 10, they moved when they were 13. Moving for them is fine. They're the new person at school. They get a lot of attention. They're incredibly confident and they're good academically, or they're really good at sports, or something that makes them comfortable at fitting in very easily, very quickly. I think that those people are very lucky to have those teenagers. Don't think it's as common as a lot of people try to make out, but if they're moving for the very, very first time as a teenager, even if you're moving to the next city in your own country, that is a huge upheaval and that needs to be recognised.
[00:19:23.340] - Emma Cochrane
[00:19:24.240] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
And moving overseas obviously adds a huge other layer to it.
[00:19:28.080] - Emma Cochrane
So in terms of prepping your teen for this move, you need to be sure that your teen has a strong sense of self. And if they haven't, then on the run up to that move, you need to be investing in them so that they feel more connected with who they are inside, because in a minute, they're going to be the odd kid out. The kid with different colour skin, with different hair, with different clothes, with different music taste, with a different accent, speaking a different language, and… We overlook it because nine times out of 10, we're white. We think we can just blend in wherever, but that isn't the case. I'll tell you that why that's not the case. I'm half Spanish. You can see, Carol, I have white skin and I grew up in North Devon. Pretty much everyone except one person is white around here or was at the time. All of my youth, I felt like I didn't fit in. I couldn't put my finger on it. I just couldn't put my finger on it. I knew I looked different because my features, even though my skin is the same colour, my features were very different.
[00:20:37.980] - Emma Cochrane
At the time, I had really bright, thick, red lips. Everyone thought I used to wear makeup all the time. I didn't. Massive eyelashes, thick, curly, black hair. My shape was slightly different to all the other girls. And it's only now, looking back, that I think, was it because I was half Spanish and I looked completely different? My mum spoke Spanish, but it was my dad that is the full Spaniard. We didn't have like Spanish language at home. We didn't follow a Spanish culture. But there might be things that you as a family do do that is your family culture or might be your religious culture that in a different country is going to stand out a mile. If your teen is not 100% or at least 90% secure in their own self, they are going to feel very, very, very awkward. What will happen is they'll want to blend in. And if they choose the wrong people to blend with, that is when you're going to come up with real problems. Real problems that perhaps we could speak about in this interview. I don't know what your questions are about. But if I talk, I don't want to scare your listeners, but teams will go with the majority.
[00:21:50.650] - Emma Cochrane
And if they're moving to a country and they go to the school and the people that they feel like are their best allies are the ones that are doing things that are perhaps antisocial, criminal, going to parties, taking drugs, driving cars without licences, all of that stuff, they are more likely to be sucked into that because they don't have a solid sense of self. You really need to address that before you… It's the same if you stay in this country. If you move from North Devon to London. I would certainly be making sure that my daughter had a strong sense of self before we did that. Because having lived in London and having lived in Bristol and been a police officer, I know how easy it is for kids who come from, in inverted commas, normal family backgrounds to be sucked into stuff like drug dealing, carrying drugs for people, shoplifting, because you want to belong. You want to feel like part of the gang. You want to feel like you're accepted. And if that sense of self isn't there, at least in part, you're going to have real trouble with your team. They're going to fall into things that perhaps they don't want to fall into, but they're pulled towards because of that, again, hierarchy of needs, wanting to feel accepted, belonged, loved.
[00:23:11.120] - Emma Cochrane
I just thought I'd throw that in there because that isn't something that you should do when you've moved. That needs to be something that you think about ahead of time. That will allow you then to connect with your teen and build a solid relationship with them. Whether they move with you at that moment or not, they will feel like they're seen, that they're heard, and that you really care about them intrinsically.
[00:23:35.630] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Yeah, I want to keep going on the identity. How do you help a teen find their sense of self?
[00:23:42.190] - Emma Cochrane
Funny you should ask. I had a conversation just purely by chance. A girl had done a TikTok and she's local to the school that I run my session from. I don't know her. We've never met, we've never spoken. But her Reel was really sad. It was pictures and video clips of her crying in the toilet, basically, at school, and just saying that she just feels really sad. I just commented underneath saying, You shouldn't be alone feeling like this. You've had loads of comments of support, but my DMs are always open. It says clearly I'm a confidence coach. I'm DBS checked. Anyway, she's reached out to me, yesterday. And so all last night, I'm back and forth, back and forth. And her situation is that she's got some girls in her year that basically they're treating her badly because they think that she moved to tutor groups because of them. And it wasn't that at all. This girl is very studious. Her mum has high expectations of her academically and expects her to get 100% in tests every single time. Straight away, two lots of pressure there that are nothing to do with her. She's getting called this, that, and the other about her body shape, about her skin.
[00:24:57.230] - Emma Cochrane
It's a lot of pressure. My first question to her is, What is it you want? When does anybody ask a teenager what it is that they want? Not what they think you want to hear, what do you actually want? When she thought about that, she's like, I really want to be an equine vet. I said, That's amazing. Good for you. What do you now need to do to move forward with that? Cut a long story short, I've offered her a free hour, and hopefully, I can delve into it a bit more. But what I would say and answer to your question is you ask them what it is that they want. Not right now, this minute. What do they want from their heart, out of life? Is it? It might be completely left field of what you think they're going to say. You might think they're going to say, I want to go and be a sales manager, or I want to go and be a lawyer. They might say, Actually, I want to be a global DJ. That's what I want to do. I want to be a DJ. And your instant reaction, mostly, depending on what generation of parent you are, might be, Oh, that's ridiculous.
[00:26:05.450] - Emma Cochrane
How are you going to pay the bills doing that? So immediately you're shutting their dream vision down. Now, flip-reverse it, if someone was to ask the parent, What is it that you want right now out of life? And get them to really hone in on that, I guarantee you the picture they have in their mind is completely different to what life they're living right now. And if someone was to then go, Oh, say, for example, they tell them what their vision is, sorry, and someone shuts that down, How would that make you feel? How would that make you feel? You'd go, You don't care about me. You don't respect my viewpoint. You don't respect who I am. What young people do, they'll turn it on themselves. I'm obviously not good enough to be a DJ. I'm obviously not going to be successful enough as a DJ to earn a living. I'm just going to have to do this instead. Why are we squashing our young people's aspirations and dreams just because we don't think that that's the path they should choose?
[00:27:10.100] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
We're only looking at it from our point of view, nobody else is.
[00:27:14.140] - Emma Cochrane
Absolutely. In terms of identity, once you identify with what it is your soul calling, your soul, your inner voice telling you, then you can encourage your young person to stand confidently within that. That in itself helps to solidify their identity as a human being. Because what you're saying is, I validate you. I validate what you want to do in life. I validate your reasons why. Because you're creative, you love music. You're a genius mixing… I've been putting records together. I've heard it. There's no reason why you can't be a DJ. And if you don't think of the music industry as a whole, it's massive. It's not just one tiny job role. They could end up being a producer. You know, someone in the background, they make lots of money, let me tell you. It's not about putting your opinion on what you think they should do in life. It's about genuinely being curious about what it is that they want and help support them in maintaining the belief that they can do that. It's about making sure that they believe in themselves enough that they could potentially do that. That will form a really solid framework for building their identity from that.
[00:28:31.870] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
And recognising that they're an individual in their own right rather than an extension of you and your dreams, the number of parents that live vicariously through what their children will do.
[00:28:44.210] - Emma Cochrane
Absolutely. But also, if we go back to those perhaps more risky situations that are potentially on the horizon for a young person who doesn't feel like they fit in or whatever, if someone's got a solid sense of self, and let's face it, it doesn't stay the same, it's fluid in life. As we go through these different seasons of our life, our identity changes. We're like shapeshifters. It just moves. The roots never change. The essence of who you are doesn't ever change. How you present it does at different times of your life. And so when presented with a challenging situation, a conflict, a difficult conversation, a tricky social situation, you might not know how to navigate. If you have a solid sense of self, you are more likely to go, That doesn't sit right with me? No, thanks. And I feel confident in myself to say no without worrying about what you think to that answer. So what if you think I'm not cool enough to smoke weed? I don't care. I don't want to smoke weed because I want to be a personal trainer. And that goes against how I feel about health and fitness.
[00:29:57.750] - Emma Cochrane
I'm good, thanks. It's about really thinking about the social situations that your young person is likely to find themselves in. Don't be narrow minded because university students who come from affluent families, I have witnessed firsthand how they get groomed by drug dealers to sell drugs for them. Because they have endless amounts of money, they will be able to sell a lot of Class A drugs: cocaine is choice, ecstasy is choice, MDMA is choice, they're all high-value drugs. Without them, the dealer getting their hands dirty. Don't think that just because your child is academic and you're affluent that these things aren't going to be a potential situation because they might, because they think it's cool to hang out with both of you.
[00:30:51.560] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Yeah, it's all about the whole fitting in and being at the cool kids table.
[00:30:56.470] - Emma Cochrane
[00:30:57.510] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Which is a phrase that drives me insane, frankly. If you say to me, Cool kids table, I'm walking in the other direction.
[00:31:04.460] - Emma Cochrane
Exactly right. I don't want to be a part of the cool kids table. But until you've got that framework, you are not going to be able to confidently walk away from a situation that puts you in harm's way or challenges what you are as a person inside.
[00:31:20.450] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Hopefully, you've got your younger child doing extracurricular activities. They have hobbies, they have things that they like to do horse riding, if you're lucky, whatever it is that they want to do. Then you move overseas and you need to try and settle them. The first thing I recommend before you get there is to find where they can still do their hobby in your new country or your new city, and perhaps find other things that interest them that are only perhaps available in that country. My daughter was able to learn Aikido in the country it was invented in Japan, horse riding in Germany. Things that we couldn't do here. We don't have the forests here. It's a bit too urban. But find things that you can grab their attention with. Hey, how about this? I have even, to some people recommended, get a dog. Your kids always wanted a dog. Promise them a dog. Whatever you promise, you must follow through with. Absolutely. I think that's a parenting thing all the way through. But even more important to keep the trust of your teenager.
[00:32:32.810] - Emma Cochrane
Sure. And also get them to suggest things that, rather than you bribing them with something that perhaps you're not going to be able to follow through on, tend to suggest things, carrots, if you like. What carrots could I offer you if we're going to move abroad? Oh, all right, Mum. Well, I'm coming up to my 16th, 17th birthday, I reckon, driving lessons or a car, things like that. I know they're big things, but they're things that they can work towards. And if that is a big enough carrot for them, then why not? If you want to make the move that badly for the sake of your children, then you have to also be prepared to invest financially as well as emotionally in things that are going to support their life being more comfortable, more easy, more abundant is the wrong word. But I think what I'm trying to say is you want to make sure that your kids feel like they're getting as much out of this deal as you are.
[00:33:32.630] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Absolutely. Actually, I had a question last night in my Facebook group was, How long does it take a teenager to settle in the new country? That's a bit of a how long is a piece of string. Because people demand an answer, I usually say at least one school term, one school semester, maybe two.
[00:33:57.370] - Emma Cochrane
I would say, think of it this way. So we've all had employed jobs in our life, and consistently, it takes me about six months to bed into a new job, to understand where I'm going, who my colleagues are, who my upline and downline are, my computer, just getting used to the computer or the laptop or my desk. Like, where am I going to put stuff, the processes? And then, once all that's done, then how to do my job and how to do it well. And, I've got this meeting. Or, How does that work then? Who's there? If it takes us around six months to settle into a job in our own country, in a job that we probably already know because we've done it before, it's just in a different place, times that probably by four and you might have the baseline of an answer for how long does it take for a teen to settle in a country genuinely. A term is a full academic year, isn't it? So it's September to June, 10 months, plus you've got breaks in between that. So whenever there's a break, certainly with my daughter, she finds it really hard to go back to school after a week off.
[00:35:08.660] - Emma Cochrane
And if that young person is perhaps going to their home country in that holiday, are they going to come back feeling the same? Probably not. Are they going to want to come back at all? Maybe not. So you have to feature all of that in. And I would definitely say you're looking at two years because of the breaks that kids get within their school holidays and the potential for things to go awry in between.
[00:35:33.990] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Yeah. Their focus at this point, as you said, is their peers, their school friends. School plays a huge part in a teenager's life. They spend most of their time there, if you're lucky. You tend to find overseas, unless they're in a local school, if they're in an international school, the cohort is usually a lot smaller. It's not like the state schools that we're aware of in the UK. They're maybe half the number of people that they can be friends with. So if they're lucky enough to get in with a group of friends at the very start, you'll have an easier ride. If they don't, then it is going to take a lot longer.
[00:36:18.930] - Emma Cochrane
Yeah, and it's particularly difficult for girls because girls are classically very competitive. Think of the mean girls film. All of these films are exaggerated versions of truth. We will all have experienced a mean girl scenario at school as girls. For those female listeners, we would have all experienced it. For the male listeners, they would have observed it. They would have observed the dynamic of the mean girl set. It doesn't matter how old you are, that mean girl set still exists. At the school gates, as a parent, I've experienced that. It's not nice. For children, for young people, they will still be experienced. They will be walking into that, except for the fact that for them, these girls or these boys will be talking a different language. They don't even know what's being said about them. That can either be good or bad. It's really important to just make sure that you are literally thinking about all of these things because it's easy not to think about it. As adults, we are sometimes so far removed from being a teenager. I very much live in my teenage self. In terms of how I operate and in terms of the work I do, I absolutely come at it from my teenage viewpoint.
[00:37:39.360] - Emma Cochrane
When I'm talking to a young person, 9 times out of 10, I'm talking to myself. The way they're talking to me, the stuff they're saying to me, I'm talking to myself. I give them what I would have wanted back then. For most adults, you try and shy away from these teenagers because it's bloody horrendous for most of us. But for me, it helps me do my job. Try and connect with your teenage self and how a move like you're proposing for your kids, how that would have affected you. If your parent had given you that information, how would you have dealt with it? What would you have needed to hear? What would you have needed to see? All of those things. Put yourself genuinely in your child's position, because once you do, you will absolutely see it from a different standpoint. You'll think of so many more things as factors to consider before you move and after you move than you would have ever done before. Just do that as an exercise.
[00:38:41.250] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
We've looked at how to talk to them before you go and to do it as soon as possible, give them some control. If there's a choice of schools, maybe they can choose which school. We've looked at preparing them, how to talk to them before you leave. The fact that your idea of the better place, better lifestyle for your teenager is not going to necessarily be theirs.
[00:39:07.760] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
And how to deal with that. We've talked about how to give them some control. Maybe they can choose between one or two schools if they're available. We can look at so many school information online. Online has given us a huge insight into other countries. It's great. How to help them settle and how to give them a sense of self a long time before the move. And it's something that everyone should do with their children regardless.
[00:39:36.900] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
And what to do if they don't want to move and if it's going to really cause problems, perhaps have a plan B or a plan Con a plan B where you don't actually move. Sometimes us adults can be incredibly selfish, and we're very quick to dismiss our children's worries, their concerns. Don't be daft, you'll be fine. You'll easily make friends. That's not necessarily the case.
[00:40:01.820] - Emma Cochrane
[00:40:02.720] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Their focus at this point in their life as a teenager is not you. Sorry, Mum and Dad.
[00:40:09.640] - Emma Cochrane
It's not about you
[00:40:10.410] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
You don't feature anymore. It's all about their peers and making good life choices and circling back to having that sense of self.
[00:40:22.100] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
But if you've got a people pleaser who basically is passive and tells you what they think you want to hear. Can you explain how that then bottles up inside them and why people pleasing isn't a good thing?
[00:40:41.410] - Emma Cochrane
Okay. As a people-pleaser myself, I can tell you from lived experience how it works. To put it into context, I was born in Spain. My brother was born in England. My dad is Spanish. My Mum left my Dad when I was four and we moved to the UK and lived with my Nan and Grandad. For a period of time, my Mum was a single parent, but we lived with my nan and grandad. They were like secondary parents. Although, having said that, the childhood memories I have, they were more prominent than my Mum because my Mum was out working. I suppose from a very young age, I took on responsibility for my brother, even though I was probably very, very young because I was the eldest, only by 16 months, and my Mum was always out, and my grandparents were my grandparents. I felt like, I think it's an innate thing. I think it is something in our DNA as a human where if you just in terms of hierarchy in a family, you just automatically assume responsibility if someone that's older isn't around. I think, deep down, right from a young age, I took responsibility.
[00:41:53.520] - Emma Cochrane
First forward, my Mum gets together with my Stepdad, who completely upset the dynamic of our little threesome. At that point, I think I was about six. Because I saw the way that he interacted with my brother, which was quite negatively, I then took on, I need to look after my brother. I also need to make sure that everything in the house is okay because my Mum, she's a single parent and she needs a life and blah, blah, blah. Even though inside, I was crying out just to be held by my Mum to have time with my mum. Because my recollection of my childhood, I didn't really see very much yet. I've always grew up near my Mum are tight, which she's my bestie. I can tell her anything. But now as an adult, looking back, I'm like, Actually, I was carrying a lot of weight. I was carrying a lot of weight. I would always go to school, never bunked off, always did my lessons, came home, did my homework, and then did the housework and made dinner. Me and my brother got into horrendous fights because she was on the graveyard shift. There was a couple of hours in the morning where me and my brother were in the house on our own.
[00:43:02.670] - Emma Cochrane
I remember once him holding a bread knife up to my throat because he didn't want… I'd washed up because he was taking too long to get ready for school, and it was his turn to wash up. He didn't want to dry up. I said, Look, it doesn't matter. Just dry up. No. He got so angry that he held up a bread knife to my throat. My brother isn't like a violent psychopath or anything, but he was obviously holding his own stuff. The way it manifested for me was that I held it together, held it together, held it together for the week. Come Friday, I would be going out to illegal raves with my older friends. I was maybe 14 at the time. I was doing recreational drugs. I was hammering it with the drink, like binge drinking because one, I was like, It's my time now. This is my time. Even as a young girl, didn't feel right. None of it felt right. In fact, I've spent most of my life going against my gut instinct because I am a people pleaser. I will do things to be accepted, to feel part of the crew.
[00:44:08.990] - Emma Cochrane
Go on. Just take this. Take this. Take this. No, I don't want to. I don't want to. Go on, man, it'll be fine. It'll be fine. Peer pressure, big time. You will feel the peer pressure so much more strongly if you're a people pleaser because you've not got the strength of identity. You've not got that strength of identity to go, No, man, I'm cool, and be cool with that. No, I was like, Okay, I just want to be part of the group. I held all of that. I would never ask my Mum for money or help because I didn't want to burden her. Whereas my brother was, Mum, give me some money. I want… I'm a Game Boy. My Mum can't afford a Game Boy. But back in the day, if not anyone's listening and doesn't know what a Game Boy is, it was basically the first handheld game computer. You can imagine at that time, they were expensive. My Mum didn't have that money. We had one present under the tree each because we were poor. I never put pressure on my mum like that. What that has transferred in me or transformed into me over the years is making really poor choices in relationships.
[00:45:14.510] - Emma Cochrane
When I say poor choices, I mean being sucked into the charm of a person and then being verbally abused, physically assaulted, being intimate with the wrong people, being in places that make you feel unsafe, going to after parties, where you really don't want to be there because there are some unsavoury, unsafe characters, and you know the police are likely to knock the door. I have put myself in so many situations that have made me feel so bloody unsafe because I'm a people pleaser, because I just don't want to burn anyone. And I've always been conflicted, always been conflicted with, This is really wrong. It feels really bad, but I don't want to be at home. This is my time. I don't want to be at home because I'll have to clean my Stepdad. I can't stand him. I don't want to be in the middle of an argument between my Stepdad and my brother. It can be different things for different people. But mostly, people pleasers will mask and they will go, Yeah, okay. If you ask a people pleaser what they want for dinner, the answer will be, I don't mind. It's okay, whatever you want.
[00:46:21.280] - Emma Cochrane
No, honestly, you choose, No, I don't want to. You choose. They will choose something that you don't like, but you leave it anyway without any complaint. You won't make a complaint because you don't want to get on… You don't want them to reject you, because it's always about a fear of rejection, of being rejected. I didn't want to burden my Mum because I thought she would shout at me that she would think that I was a disappointment, that I was weak. I didn't want her to think that. I was the older kid. I needed to just take responsibility. For a lot of boys, that responsibility is actually thrown upon them in situations like that. Single-parent, older boy, right? You're the man of the house now. I'm 14. I'm 12. Yeah, but you're the man of the house. You need to look after things now. Your Mum's on her own. I'm still a child. I have my own needs. It's about not looking; seeing, really seeing. Seeing the nonverbal communication for what it is. Don't just assume that your child is okay because they say they're okay. Even in the conversation I had with that girl yesterday within the text message, she was people-pleasing.
[00:47:33.190] - Emma Cochrane
She was like, I know you don't know me and you don't have to get back to me if you don't want to. I was like, Your feelings are valid. You are valid. You've reached out to me and I'm grateful for that. I'm glad that you have. I think you need to acknowledge how brave you are for doing that because you don't know me. That in itself made her feel validated, seen, because I said, You've done a really big thing there that shows that you're strong, you're a strong person. I don't think I'm a good daughter because I said you've shown yourself to be like a really strong friend and daughter. I don't feel like a good daughter. Well, why not? Because you're not living up to your Mum's expectations?
[00:48:12.760] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
But yes, we're very quick to dismiss our child's feelings and thoughts, so they learn how to do people-pleasing. Then, as you say, it can all come back and kick you in the butt in later years.
[00:48:26.800] - Emma Cochrane
Absolutely. I think as well, you have to… You have to be aware of the good girl syndrome. I say good girl, it could be good boy. If a child or young person is not causing you any problem, like I wasn't, I was going to school, I wasn't bunking off, my brother was because he wasn't happy at school. He was getting bullied, but his behaviour was put down to it was just bad behaviour. No, he's getting bullied. What are you doing about it? Whereas I was going to school, I had my homework done. It was in on time. I never got into fights, none of that. I was almost like, Oh, you're good. We'll just put you over here. We don't need to worry about you. Inside, I was in turmoil all the time. All the time. Just because your child is conforming, is doing everything that you expect of them, don't think for one second that they're not struggling, that they don't have their own challenges, that they're not masking stuff because they will be. And in particular, if their siblings are commanding your attention because of bad behaviour, because of poor grades, you need to be keeping an eye on the quieter sibling even more so because they will not want to give you anything more to worry about.
[00:49:45.300] - Emma Cochrane
There's so many girls that I work with who fit in that category, the unseen. And they're the girls I champion for. The unseen, the unheard, the ones that don't want to cause anybody any problem, but yet are really struggling with their mental health because they don't want to put pressure on it, on their Mums, their Dads, whoever. They don't want to be seen to be a problem. It's really sad.
[00:50:11.060] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
It is. It is. And support for your teens can be incredibly useful in this massive, massive transition. As we say, teens are in a transitional life stage anyway, and you're moving to another country or back home. If somebody would like to talk to you about this, pitch away.
[00:50:34.310] - Emma Cochrane
There's so many things that I can offer that the best thing to do is that I'll give you the link to my calendar, Carole. Then if anyone wants to have a chat, they can do that. I offer my first one is free, so you get an hour of my time. You can chat to me about anything that you or your teen are struggling with. And if you feel like within the first 10 minutes that actually your teen would benefit from that hour, then we can do that; we can sort that out and that your teen can get that free hour instead. I basically offer one-to-one coaching, and that can be via Zoom, if you're local to me in person. But because young people find it difficult now to have those social interactions, I also offer that coaching via WhatsApp, audio, or Voxer so that they can talk or text. And if that's easier for them to start with, then I'm all over that. I have programmes. I have one-offs. I've also got pre-recorded content that will help with girls getting to understand their menstrual cycle. I have downloads and info journals to help them navigate those transitions that their bodies and minds are going through.
[00:51:46.230] - Emma Cochrane
There's loads of stuff, loads of stuff. I've even got a grief workshop. We created that as an offering, really, for any young person that might be struggling with grief. That's like a pre-recorded thing. So there's loads of stuff. Best thing to do: I love a chat, so don't feel scared of contacting me and going, Can I just have a chat about this? Because it's in having that initial conversation that I can then work out what might be best for you.
[00:52:12.680] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Thank you so much for finding the time to spend with me.
[00:52:18.040] - Emma Cochrane
I've loved it. I hope that it helps even one person to have that often challenging conversation with your teen. Because I think for my final offering would be, we are so wrapped up in the busyness of life all the time that when a big change like this presents itself, you suddenly realise the disconnect, perhaps, between you and your teen or you and your partner. Then to see the distance, you go, Oh, God, how am I going to overcome that distance? When I've now got to give them this news, if you have awareness to do that, by the way? And so it's putting the steps in before. Just do yourself a favour, be kind to yourself, and think about what you can do before. Not to soften the blow, but to just prepare everyone. Because it's not just your life that's affected, it's everybody that is within your family dynamic. I just hope that it helps at least one person, and I am open to chat to any of your lovely listeners.
[00:53:19.840] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
Fantastic stuff. Thank you so much. Please check the show notes and expatchild.com for links to Emma's support services for teenagers and parents.
[00:53:37.390] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
As ever, thank you so much for being here with me today. I hope you found this episode useful and interesting. If you found this podcast helpful, I'd be really grateful if you could subscribe, share and give me a review. It really does help other people who may need to know about this stuff to find it. And I really really do appreciate it.
[00:53:59.550] - Carole Hallett Mobbs
In the show notes that accompany this episode, you'll find information about my websites, about my downloads. I've got lists, I've got e-books, I've got masterclasses, all sorts. And these will help you with every step of your expatting journey. You'll also find details about how you can work with me one to one if you wish, so that you can get personal advice tailored for your life and your move abroad because everybody is different. And of course, you can find me on your favourite social media. I've got a presence on most of them. Tag me, message me, tell your friends about me, and I look forward to learning more about you and your move overseas. Please do get in touch. Please check out expatchild.com for more free information and resources.