When a military member is deployed it effects their children differently than their spouse or other members of the family. A young child doesn’t always know how to express their emotions with words so they have behavioral issues by acting out in ways that they normally wouldn’t.
1. Disobedience-Because a child doesn’t always handle change well, they sometimes rebel. Areas that they normally wouldn’t have a hard time being obedient in, they now find difficult. With that comes trouble.
2. School-Adults have a lot on their minds and their stress levels can be high. The same goes for a military child. They can loose focus in the classroom, get off task, and either not complete or not turn in assigned homework.
3. Treatment of others-Every child handles a deployment differently and not all have a difficult time. Some children that have other siblings can take out their frustrations on them. They can make life harder than it has to be through fighting, bullying, or being down-right mean to their brother or sister.
4. Eating Habits-When we are sad our eating habits can be effected. We either consume too much or not enough. Children can also struggle with their eating habits while a parent is gone.
5. Sleeping-Children need at least 8 hours of sleep per night in order to be rested, fully alert, and ready to start their day. During a deployment, children may be so overwhelmed with the absent parent that their sleeping schedule is thrown off track. They have a lot on their minds and that can keep them awake or make it difficult to stay asleep.
So as a military spouse how do you help your child during the deployment? It can be challenging but it is possible. Here are some tips that may be helpful.
1. Communication-Encourage communication with your child and don’t be afraid to share your emotions with them. It’s good for them to know that they aren’t the only one that is sad.
2. Activity-Planning activities as a family will give the children something to look forward to. They’ll be excited and also busy. Too much down time or idle time really makes the days longer.
3. Mail-Not only is it good to receive mail it’s wonderful to send it. Helping the children create a picture or another type of art work will not only lift their spirit, it will also lift the spirit of the deployed parent.
4. Email-If a child doesn’t already have an email account, this would be a good time to create one for them. Because verbal communication isn’t guaranteed, having alternate means of communication is essential.
Deployments are difficult, but just part of being in a military family. It’s important to keep a sense of normalcy for the sake of the child. Putting forth effort, spending quality time, and encouraging communication, will make the separation easier for the child and all involved.