For children that have to deal with parents that are on active military duty it can be very stressful. With all the coverage on the news, their fears can become heightened. Below are some tips and suggestions that parents and teachers can use to help children in military families cope with the situation.
1. Keep in contact. Its important for children to keep in touch with their parents overseas so allow them to email or call them if possible. If not write letters or send packages.
2. Make a scrapbook. If a child’s parent is going to be away for an extended period of time, have the children create a journal, scrapbook or photo album of current events taking place to share with their mom or dad when they return. Pay particular attention to holidays and special occasions like birthdays, school plays or graduations. Kids will want to help parents “catch up” on these events when they return.
3. Comfort your child. Some parents will record themselves reading a story or sharing a family experience before they leave. That way, when the child is feeling lonely, they can listen to their parent and feel a connection even though they are miles apart. Letters, photos, and cards are other ideas to use so a child has something to look forward to.
4. Honesty. Reassure your child that everything will be OK but don’t make any unrealistic promises.
5. Kids need some predictability. Don’t make any promises that you can not guarantee but share with your children that the parent will call when they can, not a specific date and time.
6. Homework and in class time. Children may feel distracted or less motivated to do work with a parent serving military duty. They may also have a hard time completing homework due to anxiety. Teachers should be told if a student has a parent on active duty. This may help them understand their participation and academic standing if it changes.
7. Get connected with other military families. Kids that have parents on active military duty will be able to talk to each other about their thoughts and fears.
8. Limit time spent watching TV. Children may feel they need to watch the news to see what is going on with the war, however too much coverage can be overwhelming and cause anxiety. Watch the news with your children and inform them of what is going on if they don’t understand and be there to answer any other questions they may have.
9. Be there for each other. Its important to give your child the attention they need especially being the only parent available. Be supportive and available as much as you can, and make family, friends, and teachers also aware of the situation so they can help.
10. Let children express themselves. Kids are most likely going to have some reaction to the war, government or world politics so encourage them to get it down on paper and submit it to local newspapers, the radio or TV stations, or even elected officials.
11. Be there when your child is ready. Children will respond differently to having a parent away on active duty. Some may want to talk about it all the time, when others may not be ready at first to talk about it. Don’t force them to share how they are feeling, when they are ready to discuss their feelings be there.
12. Encourage kids to be kids. Although a child will want to know what is going on in the world if their parent is their on active duty which is understandable but also make sure your kids are having a fun childhood. Make sure they are keeping up with schoolwork, extra curricular activities, taking care of themselves, and doing things they enjoy.
13. Look for problems. Examine your kids for physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches. These symptoms may be a sign of anxiety. An increase in these symptoms may show that the child is feeling overwhelmed.
14. Evaluate professionally. Have your child evaluated by a trained and qualified health professional. Look to their pediatrician, family doctor, or a school counselor for guidance as to who to set up an appointment with.
Having a parent on active duty can bring significant stress to ones life especially a child’s. Most kids however do a great job of coping with the experience and go about their daily lives normally. However creating an open, honest and supportive environment will make them feel comfortable and at ease if they do need help coping with the situation. For more information please visit http://www.militaryfinances.com/.