Emotions of expatriate children and families transitioning into Malaysia: A cultural historical perspective

Megan Adams
page. 129~151 / 2014 Vol.8 No.2


Much of the literature on Third Culture Kids (TCKs) is focussed on negative emotions that children andadults experience during an international transition. Few studies were found that draw on a culturalhistorical reading of emotions during an international transition. This paper seeks to fill the gap bypresenting a study of a young child and her family transitioning into Malaysia as expatriates and looks atthe individual and collective emotions present at home and school during the transition. Findingspositioned from the child’s perspective show heightened emotions gradually reducing over time with thesupport of the mother and teacher (Vygotsky, 1987). Further findings reveal that the absence of everydayroutines adds to the range of heightened emotions felt by the individual child and collectively in thefamily and attending school is one of the first stable routines that the child undertakes. It is argued that acultural-historical reading of this situation offers a different perspective and beginning theorization onthe emotional development of children transitioning internationally.

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