Military deployment is a challenging time for all family members, especially for young children. Child care providers have many unique opportunities to have a significant and positive impact on military children throughout their parent’s deployment cycle and often wonder what they can do. That is why Care Courses offers Early Childhood Stress: Serious Stress in Children’s Lives, a training course on the effects of serious stress on children and strategies for helping children cope with stress and fear.
As caregivers, teachers, and parents, it is our duty to work hard to make sure our children’s needs are met during deployment (and during any time of stress.)
Here are some of children’s most important needs with some suggested actions for caregivers:
- Consistency and Routine:
Children often feel anxious and out of control when they do not know what to expect. Providing schedules, routines, and predictability can help children deal with all stress:
- Help children by reviewing daily schedules in the morning.
- Develop a picture schedule so children can visualize what’s next.
Children often have many questions, sometimes unspoken, about the changes in their lives. Be prepared to have an age-appropriate conversation about facts and feelings:
- Be honest and relevant and don’t make up answers: try to find them out!
- Discuss issues and conversations with the parent or guardian at home.
- Have two clocks in the room - one on local and one the deployed location time.
- Emotional Outlets:
Children need opportunities to express and receive love. Opportunities to act out difficult feelings and emotions are essential for emotional wellbeing:
- Allow children to express themselves without talking through activities such as journaling, art, or dramatic play.
- Offer meaningful praise for children’s efforts: be specific and acknowledge the child’s efforts and feelings.
Caregivers who understand the deployment experience and strive to meet children’s unique needs at this time help children and families meet the challenges of deployment head on. With constant positive support, children are able to learn valuable skills during deployment including independence, resilience, compassion and increased appreciation for family commitment.
Overall, our Care Course, Early Childhood Stress: Serious Stress in Children’s Live, describes how stress and fear can affect children and how caregivers can help children cope with their stress. We’ve touched on stress surrounding military deployment in this blog. Want to learn more? Find this course and our other course on childhood stress, Stress and Daycare, on our website!
Please let us know how we can be of additional assistance! Call us: 1-800-685-7610, Monday through Friday, 9-5 ET, or email us days, evenings and weekends: info@CareCourses.com. We’re here to help!