Overcoming challenges and misunderstandings with your student

Hardships and misunderstandings will happen throughout the exchange. As your student adjusts to life in your home, you may need to review your house rules, expectations and preferences again. Here are some recommendations on how to reset behavior expectations in your home after your student has arrived.

Regroup and communicate

Come together as a family and discuss current challenges. Remember to be clear, direct and respectful in expressing concerns. As the adult, you will set the tone for the conversation.


Emotions can run high, so loop in your IEC to mediate and hold a family meeting if needed. IEC involvement can de-escalate tensions through collaborative and balanced communication.

Prioritize timing

Take the time and space to feel calm and purposeful going into the conversation. Be sure to bring up your concerns in a timely fashion so your student makes the connection between the behavior and your feedback. Address concerns as they come up, no matter how small, to avoid resentment or escalated issues later.

“So from my experience, communication is the key to have a better relationship. What happens very often is that people don’t say what behaviors or habits are bothering them. This will lead to frustration, discomfort and misunderstandings.”

— Mary, host mom

Review prior expectations and responsibilities

Review your house rules and expectations that were set when your student first arrived (curfew, chores, asking permission to go places, social activities, etc.). Identify any misunderstandings and how certain expectations are not being met. If necessary, review the "Rules and Regulations" document that all students sign.


Keep the conversation constructive, specific and current. Avoid a “laundry list” of grievances or issues that were previously addressed.

Reset and make changes where applicable

Clarify which guidelines have some flexibility and which rules are firm. Outline the concrete steps that all family members will take to improve the situation. Set a time to check in with everyone to follow up on the conversation. Be sure to include any improvements you've noticed.

Find the right exchange student for your family

Does your family have any hobbies or interests that you'd like to share with an exchange student? Are you looking to learn more about a particular region of the world? Consider some of these topics and start browsing student profiles today.

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