Children can be hit with various emotions when their parent has been deployed. They may have feelings of worry, loss and grief. They may feel stressed by the situation as they are unsure as to when their parent will return. As adults, we can rationalize our fears. But, our children are not in a position to do this. With this in mind, it’s imperative that parents support children during phases of deployment to ensure that they are happy and well-adjusted.
There are some simple yet effective ways in which you can support your children during deployment.
Be Aware of Signs of Stress
Stressed children do not display the same signs of stress like adults do. They may regress to a younger state of being, refuse to eat, or throw temper tantrums. This can be difficult work for the at-home parent. But, you need to recognize these signs so that you can provide your child with the support that they need. While it can be frustrating when your child is doing this, do make sure that you are calm when dealing with these emotions. Make sure that you talk with your child about their fears or upset.
Talk Openly and Communicate Regularly
Communication is the key to happiness and balance within any family. Chat about your day at the dinner table; let your kids know that they can talk to you about anything. Aim to speak about the deployed parent in a non-threatening environment. You can chat about them on the way to school, at the dinner table or while you are walking around the store. This can be a good way to make sure that you are talking openly and honestly, without your child feeling that they are being intimidated. But, ensuring that you are talking about the deployed parent is important. After all, they will want to speak out about their experiences too.
Allow Them to Make Contact With their Deployed Parent
Before the parent is deployed, it may be wise to allow your child to write a series of letters to them. This can be a good way to lessen their emotions. Encourage them to write letters draw pictures and share poems about their parent and send them to them via email or snail mail. When the deployed parent calls, allow them to talk with them.
Encourage Your Child to Write a Diary
Older children and teenagers can be secretive about their emotions. Forcing them to talk about their parents can leave them feeling angry. Don’t force the issue if your teens are not in a safe place to talk openly. But, do encourage them to write a diary about their feelings and emotions during the time of deployment. Of course, do make sure that this diary is kept secret. They may want you to read it, they may not. However, make sure that you do not snoop. This will only serve to make your teens feel that they don’t have their support. This is one of the best ways to help your child. After all, writing emotions down on paper is a fantastic release.
Keep to a Routine
Routine may be thrown out when the deployed parent is away, but sticking to a routine, whether it is an existing one or a newly established one is important. Having routine is crucial to a child’s emotional stability. If you upset their routine, they tend to display behavioral problems.