Deployments are hard and challenging for all family members. More so, they can be hardest on a child who doesn’t know how to articulate their emotions, or simply doesn’t understand why mom or dad is not around.
Recently military spouses in our Army Wife101 Q&A group shared how to discuss deployment with your children. Here are some tips and ideas they shared.
Let Them Know Upon Confirmation
As soon as you have confirmation that the deployment is definitely happening, sit the kid[s] down and tell them. Allow them to ask questions, and answer them as openly and honestly as possible.
Mommy and Daddy Dolls
These dolls have been a staple in giving kids comfort through deployments for years. Consider getting your child a Hug A Hero Doll. They cost $26.95, and you simply upload a picture of your loved one and they will place it on a doll which is perfect for any child. You can also add a voice box which will allow dad or mom to record a custom message.
Utilize Free Resources
Military One Source is an amazing site for free resources for military kids and families. For small children they recommend Sesame Street for Military Kids. This site is filled with videos, printable and much more to make understanding this tough topic easier and fun.
For children ages 6-17, you can check out Military Kids Connect. This site is also filled with interactive and engaging activities to help get through deployments.
Another option is Boys & Girls Club of America. They have been working with the military for thirty years and offer FREE memberships to military families. This is a great way to help keep your military child interacting, busy, and learn leadership skills, obtain mentors and more. Get membership details here.
Video Messages & Younger Kids
One military wife said: “My son is 2 and didn’t fully understand what was going on. So I just kept explaining that daddy is away for and he want going to be gone for x amount of days. Everyday I’d tell him how many days was left. We’d make video messages to send to dad and all that kinda stuff.”
Younger kids are visual so creating things they can see and fully engage in is a great way to give them something to look forward to!
Your Extended Community
Finally one milspouse suggesting letting teachers and anyone who may be in charge of your child’s care know about the deployed parent. Should any issues arise they will know that the parent’s absence maybe playing a part, and can deal accordingly.
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