The effects of deployment on children can vary depending upon their age. Even children that have gone through a deployment before can react differently to the next one.
Here are some typical behaviors that occur:
-Sadness, anger and anxiety
-Problems sleeping and/or eating
-Sucking their thumb again
-Being clingy and requiring lots of reassurance and encouragement
Remember to give your child the same patience and emotional support you give yourself. Even little babies know that the household has changed.
How do you help them cope?
-Talk about the deployment before it happens. Have a family meeting!
-Assure them they are loved and will still be taken care of
-Don't relax discipline
-Don't hide your emotions
-Give plenty of hugs, kisses and reassurances
-Answer their questions
There are also LOTS of activities you can do with your children. Like writing letters to the deployed parent, communicating through email and/or video (if available), looking at videos that are pre-recorded and looking through pictures.
Visit your local Fleet and Family Resource Center for information and resources to help your family through deployment.
Our Virtual COMPASS Session will also provide you with a wealth of knowledge and power to help you succeed. Sign up today!!