Behavior - Advice for Host Families

Advisor's Angle
Janel Cook Student & Host Family Advisor
Janel Cook Student & Host Family Advisor

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. Don’t forget that 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 of the students are able to adjust and thoroughly enjoy their cross-cultural 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 is deemed as acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in the household and the limits within these. This is an important conversation to have in light of the cultural differences of how teenagers are parented in other countries. 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. Help them out as much as possible and yet let them retain who they are as an international student. Our goal is not to ‘Americanize’ an international student, but rather broaden their horizons- just as they will do for you.

If and when consequences are necessary, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Be consistent when enforcing limits. If there is more than one teen in the home, all should be treated equally.
  • Limit consequences to a few hours or days to make them most effective.
  •  Avoid sarcasm and a demeaning tone. The idea is to reprimand their poor behavior/choices, not the person. (Remember that sarcasm doesn’t necessarily cross cultures very well)
  • Ask the teen to suggest a consequence.

If you feel that you need extra support for a particularly stressful or tough situation, contact your Local Representative, Coordinator or a Nacel Open Door Advisor, [email protected] / (1-800-622-3553).