While every parent worries about their child, raising a family abroad in a different culture comes with its own set of challenges. But you are not alone. In this article, we’ll talk about places where you can turn to with any questions or worries about raising a child in Japan.
The Challenges of Raising a Child Abroad
Raising a child in Japan can feel much more difficult than doing so in your home country, because of things like cultural differences or the language barrier. To ease your mind, we’ll explain what you may expect during the period between childbirth and elementary school. You’ll find all the information you need at the Kanagawa International Foundation, an illustrated website aimed at helping foreigners all across Japan, no matter the prefecture. It’s available in English, Chinese, Tagalog, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Thai, Korean, and Indonesian.
Questions About Your Child’s Health
・Phone Consultations About Child Health (in Japanese)
Sooner or later, your small child will develop a fever, throw up, accidentally ingest something, get hurt falling down, or have something else happen to them in the course of everyday life. Perhaps it’s not serious enough to warrant calling an ambulance, but you’ll still want to do something for your child. Or perhaps it’s nighttime or a national holiday when the hospitals and clinics aren’t seeing patients. In these cases, you may want to call a Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s child healthcare hotline.
Simply dial #8000 and you’ll be transferred to a consultation service in your area where you’ll be able to ask a pediatrician or a nurse about things you can do for your child or ask about hospitals and clinics you can visit. Direct numbers to local services as well as their operating hours can be found in the link below:
Phone Consultations About Child Healthcare
Questions About Child Development and Disorders
To monitor the development of children born in Japan, the government conducts mandatory examinations of all children aged 1.5 and 3 years old. Most municipalities also conduct a checkup when a child is 3-4 months old. You will be informed of the examination via mail shortly before it’s scheduled.
The examination looks at things like the child’s growth, whether they’re eating right, if they have any illnesses or conditions, how their motor skills are, how they’re developing mentally, if they have a speech disorder, or if they’re getting their vaccinations. If there’s something that’s been worrying you about your child, this would be a good time to ask about it.
Many municipalities also offer child development consultations outside the mandated exams. If there’s something that has been weighing on your mind, visit your local municipal office’s website and search for things like “Development Support” (発達支援) or “Development Consultation” (発達相談).
Questions About Child Abuse
If you’re worrying that you may hurt your child or you suspect that a child in your neighborhood is being abused, please contact your local child consultation center. Besides abuse, you can also get advice on things like bullying and other issues that children might be struggling with.
Parents of Infants and Toddlers Should Make Use of “Childcare Support Centers”
At childcare support centers (子育て支援センター; kosodate shien sentaa), parents and guardians can let their toddlers and infants play while they relax and talk to each other. Depending on the region, these places may also be called “childcare squares” (子育てひろば). The centers have toys for all age groups and you can also consult with the staff there, although it will have to be in Japanese.
Parents and guardians form groups based on the children’s age, so it’s easy to make friends at these centers. To find out about childcare support centers in your area, check the website of your local municipal office, and if there’s one near you, definitely pay a visit!
The “Yorisoi Hotline” Allows You to Talk About Your Worries in Your Native Language
If you ever feel like talking about your problems in your native language, call the Yorisoi Hotline or contact them via Facebook Messenger or by FAX. They offer services in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Korean, Nepalese, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. The availability of a consultant in your specific language will depend on the time of day. Please check the following site for details.
The Yorisoi Hotline offers consultations not just regarding childcare but also family matters, work, and more.
The Yorisoi Hotline for Foreigners:
Prefectural Consultation Services for Foreigners
Some prefectures offer consultation services for foreigners. If there is one near you, consider contacting them. Here is a list of such services in Tokyo:
From the Tokyo International Communication Committee’s “Guide to Life in Japan for Foreigners”: Consultation Services for Foreigners in Tokyo:
A parent’s job never ends, and it can cause a lot of stress on the body and mind. If you ever feel overwhelmed or are worrying about anything, we hope that you’ll use the information in this article to get all the help that you need.
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By the way, if you're looking for a job or career change and you're already in Japan, we now have a jobs site called tsunagu Local Jobs! On top of having exclusive job listings that you won't find anywhere else, we've vetted all the listings to ensure that they're foreigner-friendly and high quality. If you register for an account on the site, you can even make use of our agent service where our international staff will help you find the perfect job in Japan, so check it out today!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.