Advisor's Angle: Tips for Host Families

Advisor's Angle


As students have settled in, made some friends, and gotten more comfortable in a new school and home, remember that teens are riding the waves of adolescence, which is taking their bodies and minds on a journey from youth that will eventually land them into the realm of adulthood.

This journey is not entirely smooth and teenagers still need as much patience and attention as they needed when they were children. Remember, positive reinforcement does wonders!

International students are working through the ebbs and flows of adolescence with the added pressures of homesickness, cultural immersion, and language barriers. While most students are able to adjust and thoroughly enjoy their experiences, there may be times when Host Parents will need to give some consequences for unacceptable behaviors.

Before consequences are given, it is important for international students to know what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in their Host Parent’s home and the limits within those behaviors. This is an important conversation to have early on, but if you didn't, now is the time to review guidelines for your student.

Students might not have had a curfew, a set bedtime, nor had to ask permission to hang out with friends, etc. in their home country. It is not safe to assume that they will automatically know how to function as a teenager in the U.S. Host Families need to help out as much as possible, while letting the students retain who they are.

Our goal is not to “Americanize” an international student, but rather broaden their horizons - just as they will do for the people they meet.

If and when consequences are necessary, here are some things for Host Families to keep in mind:
• Consistency when enforcing limits. If there is more than one teen in the home, all should be treated equally.
• Limiting consequences to a few hours or days will make them most effective.
• Avoid sarcasm and demeaning tones. The idea is to reprimand their poor behavior/choices, not the person. (It’s important to remember that sarcasm doesn’t necessarily cross cultures very well)
• Ask the student to suggest a consequence.

If students and families need extra support for a particularly stressful or tough situation, they should contact their Local Representative, Coordinator, or a Nacel Open Door Advisor.