challenges of being a military child

Being a military spouse can actually make some parts of going back to school easier. No matter what, these separations are stressful, especially for the youngest members of our force – military children. For more ways to help your military child thrive, download our free handbook “A Battle Plan for Military Children’s Mental Wellness.” It’s a great place to find help in creating a solid, stable household in which military children can thrive. Because of frequent transitions, it is unfortunately easy to miss warning signs that a child needs help. They’re Like You. Too much responsibility, especially for things above what would typically be expected for their age, can cause a child to feel undue pressure, anxiety, or resentment. problems. Other children may act out or become more oppositional as they struggle with feelings of anger at having to be separated from their parent. It is natural for humans to connect and bond to our environment and to experience sadness and grief when we leave them behind. Constant moves and saying goodbye to friends takes a … Although these relocations may disrupt academic and social networks, military children often function as well as, or better than, non-military children. December 2011; ... to a greater number of child difficulties and well-being . Dr. Johnson’s professional interests include the impact of deployment on children, optimizing resiliency in military families, early child development, parenting, prevention and health promotion, and enhancing the behavioral health of children with chronic health or developmental conditions. Her winning commentary, which reflects on her experiences as a military child, is published in celebration of the Month of the Military Child. Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Veterans Strategic Analysis & Research Tool (V-START), Veterans Program for Politics and Civic Engagement. An opportu-nity being a military child IS making new friends and seeing new places. They need to be better coordinated and delivered at the level of individuals, families, and communities. 1,381,584 of the military-connected children are ages 4-18 years old. The first time I personally had to deal with a loved one dying was in college. For most families in the United States, long separations between children and … Military Children from WAMU's Breaking Ground project sheds light on the challenges of being the child of soldiers. Because previous research has introduced the important role siblings play in an individual’s well-being, in the future, researchers should focus on the challenges facing brothers and sisters of service members, as well as the impact siblings have on military children. This can leave military children feeling lonely or socially isolated. When military families establish strong relationships and have strong, supportive social networks, they perform well and display more resiliency during challenging times. Always having to “put yourself out there” and get to know new people is tiring, especially if you know another move will be on the horizon which means starting over again. When family members find meaning in the service member’s work, they tend to function better. It’s easy to … Pre-deployment: During the days and months leading up to deployment, service members and their families may experience a variety of stressful events, such as dealing with legal issues, creating a will, or assigning a power of attorney.Children may feel confused or anxious about what will happen to them. When military families establish strong relationships and have strong, supportive social networks, they perform well and display more resiliency during challenging times. This is especially challenging for children who learn differently or have special needs. No job is just a mommy or just a daddy job. Military life means moving a lot. Military Children from WAMU's Breaking Ground project sheds light on the challenges of being the child of soldiers. Notify military personnel assigned to installations with known challenges regarding access to adequate public education via their orders and provide contact information for the School Liaison Officer to start working solutions before arriving at the new … Feelings of grief and loss can also occur if a parent returns from a deployment with a significant emotional or physical injury as a child must adjust to a parent no longer being able to do what they could do before. Check in with your child’s doctor and seek support if you suspect your child might be struggling with a deployment or separation. Since many service members experience mental health problems upon their return, research is needed on the effect the service member’s mental and/or physical health concerns have on family members, including coping, adjustment and health concerns in grandparents, and others beyond the traditional nuclear family. An opportu-nity being a military child IS making new friends and seeing new places. This also applies to child care services and pre-school enrollments. Many of the challenges military families face are moderated by interacting factors, such as branch of service, age, education, ethnicity, and pre-existing problems and assets. Changing schools multiple times over, and navigating gains and losses that are inherent of military life, requires exceptional sacrifice. The basic requirements are that applicants must be a U.S. citizen between 17 and 23 years old (25 for the U.S. Copyright © 2021 One in Five Minds Blog | 1in5minds, All Rights Reserved, many positive elements of growing up in a military family, reconnect with their deployed parent post-deployment, How Military Parents Miss the Warning Signs of Mental Illness in their Kids, The Wounded Warrior Parents’ Guide: How to Talk With Your Child About Physical and Invisible Injuries, Finding Treatment for the New Kid on Base, Settling in After a Move? American Psychologist (2011); 66(1), 65-72. Over time, these unique stressors can take a toll on even the most resilient kids. I have travelled the world supporting my husband and have lived and breathed the challenges faced by this community. The Challenges of Military Child Public Education and Homeschooling Access to quality education and persistent transition problems for military children are continuing sources of frustration for military families and affects retention across all services. Issues of military families prior to deployment and after return ... take on the challenges while others do so with resentment. Further, military families are particularly vulnerable to the negative repercussions of the favorite child complex. Children of military and veteran families experience unique challenges related to military life and culture. Communities, neighborhoods, schools and extended family play a significant role in the well-being of military children during deployment. It's one of the many side effects of being a military brat. Vanessa Jacoby, PhD, is an Assistant Professor and Licensed Clinical Psychologist with a child specialization in the Division of Behavioral Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center. No, often times military families are assigned to You can also help your child to brainstorm creative ways to maintain connections with loved ones living far away by using technology such as video chatting, sending pictures, and videos. Despite needs to better understand the impact of deployment on military children and families and to provide proper support for them, rigorous research is lacking. Surprise! What items could you add to the list? The military teaches you to be strong and independent at such a young age. Because schools teach content at different paces and with different teaching styles, a child may enter a classroom where they are expected to already know content they haven’t been taught yet. Talk with your child before the move to help them prepare, build a support system, and check in with them frequently in the months after the move. Military children typically attend between seven to nine schools before they graduate, moving approximately every two years. Life in the military has its challenges, but also opportunities. Deployments average 3 to 15 months. To continue encouraging well-being among military children, parents and community members should work together to foster an open environment, where children can raise questions and concerns. Military children have always had to deal with the stressors of being the new kid on the block. The Children of Military Service Members Challenges, Supports, and Future Educational Research. The opinions, representations and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of One in Five Minds or Clarity Child Guidance Center. Military families are not that different from civilian families. Future studies should focus on identifying the specific strengths and assets that help military children function well during a deployment, including reviews of current interventions to determine their success in helping military children and families throughout the deployment process. Although many children in military families adjust well to the challenges of military life, some children, especially those with special needs, may still face significant problems. This is even more true for children because they are developmentally primed to grow strong attachments for comfort and safety. Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Howe, the daughter of U.S. Air Force Brig. With demands on service members and their families being greater now than in past years, policy makers might consider funding more support programs for family members as well. 3. And it’s usually not just a relocation down the street. Being a military child is somewhat like being a part of an elite club. 10) We speak a different language. Military families overcome challenges that most civilian families can't imagine! Lastly, previously acquired developmental milestones, such as using the potty, sleeping through the night, or talking in sentences, may temporarily back-track. The effects on children with pre-existing psychological or other conditions of being a member of a military family at time of war also need to be examined. Deployments make 9-12-month separations from a parent quite common. If your child is serious about wanting to attend a military academy, you’ll need to start thinking about the application process during the early years of high school. I am different because of my opportunities and challenges. Gen. Dave and Mrs. Dulce Howe and senior at Tabb High School, won the Langley Officer’s … While not inherently “bad,” a sudden spike in responsibility is stressful for anyone, especially children who are still learning about how to be responsible for tasks. It’s refreshing to see recognition for the affect that has had on their lives. December 2011; ... to a greater number of child difficulties and well-being . On average, military families are assigned to a new installation every two to three years. Approximately 10 to 12 percent of military-connected students are served in special education programs. Gen. Dave and Mrs. Dulce Howe and senior at Tabb High School, won the Langley Officer's Spouses Club's 2012 Scholarship contest. Writing about the challenges you've faced during military life can set you apart from other college applicants. The Future of Children and the Military Child Education Coalition jointly developed this issue of the journal to promote effective policies and programs for military-connected children and their families by providing timely, objective information based on the best This means that frequent moving comes not only with stress of readjustment, but also with feelings of sadness and grieving. Life in the military has its challenges, but also opportunities. Issues in need of further research are identified, especially research into programs that assist military children and families. While there are many positive elements of growing up in a military family, being a military kid means always having to adjust and adapt to an array of changes, and that’s not an easy task! Adapting to new people, places, and things is hard for everyone, and children can face various challenges as they work hard to adjust to their new surroundings. It is important to help your child know that it’s okay to feel nervous or scared, and that you are there to help them through the tough parts. The wellness of military children should be approached at more than the individual level, as the greater community environment has a significant impact on children’s psychological health during deployment as well. Military-related separations often come with a shift in family roles and responsibilities. Additionally, current programs need to be expanded, and would ideally focus on more comprehensive approaches to social stability and reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health care. And sometimes, they occur during peacetime. These separations bring a mix of complex emotions for everyone in the family. Moving means not only adjusting to new things, but also having to leave things behind – best friends, favorite teachers, excellent soccer coach, and more. It is extremely hard when your parent leaves, but you have to realize that that is their job. The Children of Military Service Members Challenges, Supports, and Future Educational Research. problems. Future studies should focus on the relationships between these factors, and how they interact to determine post-deployment outcomes for these families. However, there are steps you can take to help prepare your child for a deployment, support them during the deployment, and reconnect with their deployed parent post-deployment. Without focused support and resources, military children face social and emotional challenges, difficulty understanding policies and adjusting to curriculum and school climate, difficulty qualifying for or continuing with special education services, and … The Unique Challenges of Military Families This training module provides civilian mental health providers with an overview of the unique characteristics of military family life. The list can go on forever about the negatives of living in a military family, but there are also some really awesome things about being a military brat, such as becoming strong and … It begins with a review of the basic demographics of military families and a discussion of the variability among military families. Each relocation brings with it the numerous problems associated with transitioning between education systems that may not translate. Of the 1.2 million school-aged children of military service members, only 86,000 actually attend schools administered by the Department of Defense on military … Previous research has found that the families that function most effectively during relocations and other major transitions related to military life tend to be active, optimis… It was sad not being able to celebrate things while he was gone, but it is one of those sacrifices you have to make as a military child. Below are four of the top challenges that our military kids face, some common difficulties kids experience as a reaction to those challenges, and some tips to help your children through them. As a military brat, you learned at an early age that there is much you have no control over so you better make the best of what you have. Williams and I are both Army brats -- her father is a retired lieutenant colonel and mine is an active-duty sergeant major. Though each child's reaction to stress is unique, we know that children of deployed parents are at an increased risk for these difficulties when compared with military children whose parents did not deploy1. The military community is one that is close to my heart being an ex-soldier and a current wife to a serving solider and mother to 2 young service children. • Although military families cope well with short separations, deployments greater than six months can have adverse effects on children’s physical health, behavior and academic performance, potentially increasing depression and anxiety in military children. One in Five Minds and Clarity Child Guidance Center accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. Emerging evidence suggests that military children struggle with more mental health and behavioral problems than their civilian counterparts, particularly at times of deployment.” Watson and Schertz go on to pose a number of questions about military children as they age out of dependent status and transition into civilian life. Deployment: When a parent is deployed, a child … Programs exist that are intended to help, but their effectiveness is largely unknown. These include deployment-related stresses such as parental separation, family reunification, and reintegration; disruption of relationships with friends and neighbors due to frequent moves; and adaptation to new schools and new community resources. Anyone who has experienced a move knows how stressful it is. Being a military child is somewhat like being a part of an elite club. Family Separations. In her work at STRONG STAR, Dr. Jacoby conducts prevention and supportive programs with military families with young children experiencing deployment. This can lead to difficulty keeping up with homework, school anxiety, or negative impacts on self-esteem. LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va., April 12, 2012 — EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Howe, the daughter of U.S. Air Force Brig. This emotional cycle of deployment begins when news of deployment is released to the family. We’re in a unique position where we may meet someone one day in the United States, and either never see them again in your life or you may run into that person again years down the road, when you’re both living in a place like Germany. Previous research has found that the families that function most effectively during relocations and other major transitions related to military life tend to be active, optimistic, self-reliant and flexible. Let your child know that you are there to support them and that they can always tell you if they are feeling overwhelmed. The military might consider implementing additional training programs for their service members on how to discuss deployment with family members. Community environments affect children’s adjustment and coping, and parental stress, which can be mitigated by community support. You can help your child understand and process their grief by encouraging them to share their feelings and letting them know it’s normal to feel sad. Over 80 percent of these children – 1,105,267 students – attend Pre-K through 12 public schools. This article reviews existing research on military children and families, with attention to their strengths as well as their challenges. Publication Type – Peer-Reviewed Journal Article. Deployment and mental health diagnoses among children of US Army personnel. For example, at FE Warren, AFB I’ve made a lot My military upbringing has taught me how to work harder, get further, and always be me. According to Dr. Jonathan Zaff who presented at the 2011 CNA Conference, 80 percent of military children are functioning relatively well despite the challenges. And, with each move comes many transitions. Being part of a military family can be both incredibly rewarding and sometimes frustrating. I am different because of my opportunities and challenges. If you believe your child is struggling with these challenges, use whatever support is available to you, such as a therapist. You may even notice your children struggling to leave behind things that surprise you, such as a particular tree in your back yard, or their favorite space in your home. Some Quick Resources and Suggestions to Support your Military-Connected Child, Mansfield, A. J., Kaufman, J. S., Engel, C. C., & Gaynes, B. N. (2011). It’s refreshing to see recognition for the affect that has had on their lives. Families face a number of challenges before, during, and after deployment. • Alternatively, family members may exhibit increased resilience and personal growth, and become closer after deployments. If you grew up in a military family, you know that many of the challenges you faced were different than those of your civilian friends. When your parent is gone all the time for a long period of time, you have to learn to control your emotions. It is just as important to recognize their assets and to promote them. • There are about 1.85 million children in the U.S. with at least one parent in the military, many of whom relocate more frequently than non-military children. Most families do well after peacetime deployments since these deployments are usually safer and shorte… Changing schools multiple times over, and navigating gains and losses that are inherent of military … Kavitha Cardoza/WAMU Check … For example, even in the midst of feeling sad or anxious about the separation, family members may also feel pride for their service member. Shorter separations, usually around 1 month, are even more common, as many service members must often travel for trainings and military-related educational programs. Frequent classroom changes do not give a teacher time to understand how a child learns best. The challenge is starting over in a new school, town, or new country; leaving friends and familiar places. They may have more household chores or more obligations in looking after their younger siblings. For example, at FE Warren, AFB I’ve made a lot Tasks and responsibilities held by the service-member parent must be delegated while they are deployed. One thing you always hear about military brats is that they move around a lot, and that’s true. I learned that growing up as a Military Brat meant not just being part of a military family, but being part of the military family. Programs for military children and families often focus on the prevention or reduction of problems. My military upbringing has taught me how to work harder, get further, and always be me. Frequent moves can also make it difficult to build and maintain friendships and social groups. Here are my Top 10 Ways the Military Family Is Unique. Kavitha Cardoza/WAMU Check Out The Full Story From WAMU's Breaking Ground Project Since the Vietnam War in the 1960s and ’70s, the military’s demographic has changed. The challenge is starting over in a new school, town, or new country; leaving friends and familiar places. For most families in the United States, long separations between children and their parents are rare – unless you are a military family. I'm Stephanie Himel-Nelson and I'm excited to be hosting this chat today. Military children face challenges others often do not encounter until adulthood. She is member of the STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary Research Consortium and the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD, whose mission is to alleviate and prevent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other deployment related problems in active duty service members and their families. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have led to concerning psychological, behavioral, and academic outcomes for children in military families. We’re in a unique position where we may meet someone one day in the United States, and either never see them again in your life or you may run into that person again years down the road, when you’re both living in a place like Germany. Moving means not only a new home but also new neighbors, new classmates, new teachers, a new classroom, new sports teams, and the list goes on. Make them aware of any special needs, and advocate for getting support with the transition. Additional research on the experiences of National Guard and Reserve families, who often have less access to support services, would also be valuable. However, in recent years, unprecedented lengthy and multiple combat deployments of service members have posed multiple challenges for U.S. military children and families. It’s important to help your child prepare for any shifts in responsibilities and not ask your child to do anything that is above what would be developmentally expected of them. But being a part of a military family also presents some unique challenges, experiences, and joys that folks who have not shared our way of life may miss out on. Positive youth development. Research and programs need to take a comprehensive approach that is strengths based and problem focused. A child of a deployed or recently returned service member may experience increased worry about the safety of their parent or anxiety when separated from either of their parents. Children may respond to this stress in different ways. Gen. Dave and Mrs. Dulce Howe and senior at Tabb High School, won the Langley Officer’s Spouses Club’s 2012 Scholarship contest. Children may also struggle with chronic sadness or depression due to missing their deployed parent. Many formal and informal resources already exist to support military children and families, but further assistance, support and engagement involving the broader community is still needed. “Throughout history, military children and families have shown great capacity for adaptation and resilience. A relocation down the street until adulthood any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remain with.... Requires exceptional sacrifice Service members challenges, Supports, and navigating gains and that! Challenges, use whatever support is available to you, such as a therapist further research are,... Travelled the world supporting my husband and have strong, supportive social networks, they tend to function.! Looking after their younger siblings often function as well as, or new country ; leaving friends and new! War in the U.S. Army institute for Veterans challenges of being a military child military families are that... 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