The ongoing military conflicts throughout the world continually requires that our men and women serving in the armed forces be constantly shifted around to different theatres of war. For those that are involved in active duty service, this can be an extremely stressful time for families, and especially for children whose parents are leaving for their tour of duty. While the amount of time served can range from months at a time to over a year, it is still a difficult topic to process and can hit children especially hard. Being able to prepare your child for a military deployment and the removal of a parent or both parents from their lives is difficult, but when approached the right way, can be effective.
Children will respond differently to news of a deployment based on their ages and their specific maturity levels. For example, 3 to 4 year olds don’t have a specific concept of time, but those from the age of two and younger can really sense stress within other family members in the home. Five years old and older is where it can get a bit trickier and emotions come into play. Children can specifically register that their parents are not there and suffer negative emotions and effects from the deployment at times.
In order to effectively prepare your child or children for a deployment, consider some of these steps in the process:
- Discuss the deployment together during family meetings and have the children ask questions pertaining to it, and be prepared to give answers.
- If possible share your location, and make sure you provide ways to stay in touch during the deployment.
- Manage expectations on who is in charge while away on deployment.
- Spend quality time together before leaving: go on some family trips, go out to eat, throw a going away party and make sure to provide as much contact as possible.
- Share resources for support, such as Military Kids Connect, or mental health facilities to discuss any depression, anxiety or other symptoms related to the deployment.
The advantages of preparing for leaving outweigh any inconvenience, and will provide your children with a stable platform for the duration of your military deployment.
Call Peak Behavioral Health today for a free confidential assessment.