Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Helping Children Through Deployment

Parents across America are being called to serve on military deployments around the world. These families have to adjust to different changes and experiences throughout the stages of deployment. When this occurs, all areas of a child's life are affected. It is important that parents, relatives, teachers, and community members are all educated on how to help children cope and adapt to the changes they are going through. 
Sesame Street aired an episode for military families to help teach children about deployment, and the changes they might be going through. The video to the left encourages the community to be a support group for these children, and help them cope with these changes in their life.

How to talk to you child:
As a parents, it is important that you discuss deployment with your children together. The more you talk and express your feelings before, during, and after deployment, the better your child will be able to cope with the situation. Here are some tips to help encourage parents to communicate with their children, and maintain healthy relationships throughout the stages of deployment.
Be honest with your child
It is important to talk about the deployment early and frequently. This allows more time for them to better understand the situation, and ask questions when needed. Give them as much information possible about their deployed parent. If they have questions about the military, try to explain to your child in a way that they would understand. Talk to them as often as you can!
Encourage them to talk about feelings
Find positive and meaningful ways to help your child to talk about and express their feelings. Drawing pictures, writing stores, listening to music, and writing journals are all ways a child can express their feelings in a healthy way.
Find ways to make them feel better
Each child going through these changes will have different ways of coping with their emotions. A parent or caregiver can help their child by finding what makes them feel better when they are missing their deployed parent. Examples could be playing an audio or video recording of parent, looking at pictures, or simply talking about the parent. 
Talk about the deployed parent 
Talk with children about where the deployed parent is, and what they are doing there. Families can also tell stories and jokes about their parent to remember positive memories. ALWAYS remind your child of how much their deployed parent loves and misses them. 

Photo Credit
When a parent is away on deployment, it is important that families maintain their daily routines. Being consistent in discipline and rules, even though things could be more difficult as a single parent. This consistency provides stability, and should be included in all daily and weekly activities for children. Doing this reassures them that even though things are changing around them, their home will stay the same.

The NAEYC provided a list of children’s books to help children better understand separation or military deployment:
  • Daddy, Will You Miss Me? by Wendy McCormick. Grades K–2.
  • Daddy, You’re My Hero! by Michelle Ferguson-Cohen. Grades K–1.
  • The Magic Box: When Parents Can’t Be There To Tuck You In, by Seymour Epstein and Marty Sederman. Grades K–2.
  • Mommy, You’re My Hero! by Michelle Ferguson-Cohen. Grades K–2.
  • My Daddy Is a Soldier, by Kirk Hilbrecht and Sharron Hilbrecht. Grades K–1.
  • Soldier Mom, by Alice Mead. 1999. Grade 3.
  • Uncle Sam’s Kids: When Duty Calls, by Angela Sportelli-Rehak. Grades K–3.
  • When Dad’s at Sea, by Mindy Pelton. Grades K–3.
  • While You Were Away, by Eileen Spinelli. Pre-K–2.
  • A Year Without Dad, by Jodi Brunson. Grades K–3.
  • A Yellow Ribbon for Daddy, by Anissa Mersiowsky. Grades K–3.

For more resources, visit The Veteran Family Support Alliance 


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