Military children aren’t naturally resilient. They aren’t born with a distinct skill set that leads them to be confident in new situations, to be understanding during separations and to be grateful for this unique life.
Yet, military brats are often described as resilient. Why?
I believe it’s because of their military parents. Resilient military children are that way because of their parents. Their parents show them the ropes of military life in a positive light. Their parents take the time to listen to their frustrations about the new school, missing their old friends, making new ones and saying goodbye to Daddy right before Christmas.
But as a military parent how do you know when to apply tough love and when to hug your way to happiness? Lucky for us, there are plenty of valuable resources to help us know how to talk to our children about military life and how to listen when they want to talk.
Here are 4 resources to utilize as parents of military kids.
FOCUS: Family Resilience Training for Military Families
You’ll recognize FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) by its purple materials. FOCUS is available to families in all branches of the military and its training is based on more than 20 years of research. FOCUS says its mission is to provide “resiliency training to military children and families. It teaches practical skills to help families overcome common challenges related to a parent’s military service, to communicate and solve problems effectively, and to successfully set goals together and create a shared family story.”
One thing I love is their emotion thermometer magnet. It helps my preschooler explaining that she’s feeling “a little red” when she doesn’t have the vocabulary to identify her exact feelings.
Sesame Street Talk, Listen, Connect Kits
With Elmo as the central character, small military children can feel like another little person understands their situation. Talk, Listen, Connect is a “a multiphase outreach initiative to help kids through deployments, combat-related injuries, and the death of a loved one.”
As a parent, I really enjoyed the conversation starters in the workbook. It had a short story I could read to my daughter and then questions I could ask her. The workbook also provides suggestions and strategies to help ease the transitions during the deployment.
With You All the Way- USO
When my husband deployed, my kindergartner received a With You All the Way support kit from the USO. This kit includes a video, a teddy bear, and a deployment journal. My child enjoyed writing in the journal about her adventures while Daddy is gone.
School Liaison Officer
Switching schools can get complicated quickly for military children and their parents. Just trying to figure what paperwork needs to be submitted to a new school district in the middle of the semester can be a frustrating experience. School Liaison Officers around the world work to ease this transition for military children.
My military children are young and I’m still trying to figure how I can best support them. Do they want to talk through their feelings? Do they want to draw Daddy a picture? Do they want to cry? Navigating these moments as an occasional solo parent and military spouse, I truly appreciate the information from the resources listed above.