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Military Deployment: A Stressful Time for Children and Teens

By Caren Caty, Ph.D.

.Over the past decade more than 2 million children have experienced the deployment of at least one parent, and thousands are coping with a military parentís death or traumatic injury. Studies indicate stress and worry are common among children of a deployed parent with one in four children experiencing symptoms of depression and over half reporting trouble sleeping.  This applies as well to children who may have other important family members deployed, such as sisters or brothers.

Children and family members may feel numb, sad, and worried while adjusting to the separation of deployment. Children may feel helpless and filled with dread as they witness a parentís bouts of crying and profound sadness over their deployed partner or child.

While family members may feel excitement over the return of their deployed relative, they face the challenge of getting to know each other once again. This is often the case the longer the person has been away and the experiences faced while deployed. For military families who move often, the lack of attachment to school, friends, and community can cause a sense of isolation.

 

Tips for helping children and teenagers in military families:

●Tell them it is ok to ask for help

●Listen to their concerns and discuss their worries

●Develop a support network

●School-based support groups can help military children fit in and student

   mentors can help navigate a new school

 ●Encourage and support involvement in sports. Being a member of a team is a way to make new

    friends quickly and be a part of fun activities that can reduce stress

 ●Encourage children and teens to participate in special activities or rites of

   passage

 ●Work with the school to establish time for phone calls if the time zone

   difference is interfering with the opportunity to talk with a deployed parent

 ●Teens may need time with peers while adjusting to deployment or as the

    family adjusts to the service memberís return

 ●Teach children and teens how to deal with transition and loss

 ●Seek professional help for your child or teenager if their level of distress is

   interfering with healthy functioning

 

 

 

 

 

 ● Military Families: Deployment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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