How to help your child cope with deployment
This information should help you to help your child cope with the deployment of a loved one.
Make an effort to spend quality time with each child before deployment. Find an activity that each child loves to do and direct your full attention to it.
Discuss the upcoming deployment with your child. Do not pretend the deployment will not happen. Explain to your child where their military parent will be and what they will be doing.
Notify your child's school guidance counsellor and teachers of the upcoming deployment. Make sure your child's counsellor and teacher is fully aware of what you have told your child and what your life is like.
Maintain a sense of normalcy in the home. Just because the military parent is deployed does not mean the household routine should be completely uprooted. Don't forget children often look to their parents as a model of how they should feel.
Talk with other members of the military. Ask about different counselling services that may be available to your children. Military children face many things that children in ‘traditional’ families don't. Military counsellors are specially equipped to help military kids.
Explain to the child they can still go to and confide in the non-military parent. Often children feel as if they must ‘hide’ or handle all of their problems themselves. This belief comes from seeing their non-military parent suddenly being forced to take on the role of a single parent. By explaining that the non-military parent is still available and accessible, you will help your child to remain in the role of a child.
Maintain contact with your child. Things get busy during a deployment; however, small things count when it comes down to feeling connected. Call, text, write or email. Reach out and maintain contact.
Express an interest in what your child is doing. This goes for both the deployed parent and the parent that has remained at home. Ask your child about their grades, friends and activities. Once again, it is important to help your child feel as if there is a connection despite the distance.
If your child is old enough to watch the news, discuss what you are seeing. You do not want your child to take a small news snippet and begin imagining all of the bad things that are happening to his military parent.
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