Help Your Children Build Resiliency

Help Your Children Build Resiliency

Posted by the T2 Public Affairs Office on September 28, 2017

Moving to a new state or country. Starting classes in a new school. A mom or dad leaving home for a deployment.

For a child, changes like these can be daunting. But for military children, these challenges also present tremendous opportunities. More than most kids, those in military families get to experience life in lots of places around the world. A new school can also mean making new friends or trying new activities. Learning how to cope and even blossom during transitions can help children build a valuable lifelong skill: resiliency.

As Desiree Ahmann, an Iraq War veteran and Army career counselor, put it in a commentary in Task & Purpose: “Being a military family has made us all very resilient. A military life can be unpredictable, so parents and children have to be ready to switch gears at a moment’s notice. My kids take this in stride, and they are stronger for it. This has made them adaptable to any situation and boosted their self-confidence.”

But children usually don’t learn resilience by themselves. Resilience is a skill — like math or reading — and parents need to know how to foster this strength in their sons and daughters. Here are just a few ways to help them:

  • Stick to a daily routine, which can be comforting to children. This can be particularly important when life is already disrupted by a change like moving to a new school in a new town.
  • Set a good self-care example for your children by eating properly, exercising and getting enough sleep.
  • Help your children remember how they successfully handled hard times in the past.
  • Sit down together and share age-appropriate books and movies that focus on children coping with a tough experience and getting through it.
  • Teach your children to set reasonable goals and offer praise for moving toward them, even if the steps are small. This will help your kids focus on what they have accomplished rather than on what they haven’t.

For more advice, check out these resources on the AfterDeployment website:

  • Ten Tips for Building Resilience in Children and Teens. Find lots of practical tips and specific things you can do to help your child thrive.
  • Families with Kids. Get guidance on helping your children cope with the deployment experience.
  • Family Resilience Begins With You. Learn how to support your children, strengthen family relationships and find help for yourself.

The Military Kids Connect website also provides resiliency tools that help kids prepare for significant family transitions. For example, Military Kids Connect’s monitored online forums for older kids offer military children a way to share their ideas, experiences and suggestions. Knowing they are not alone makes it easier to deal with the stresses of military life.

Resilience is an essential part of healthy development. It builds self-esteem and helps children respond positively to life’s challenges. However, be mindful of warning signs like depression and severe anxiety, which may mean your child needs additional support. Remember, there is nothing wrong with getting help! Taking that essential step just shows you’re being a good parent.

 

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