Saturday, November 14, 2009

What to Say to Military Kids Who are Worried about their Deployed Parents

By Julie Marie Rahm

Veterans Day was last Wednesday. In honor of the day I had the privilege of being a guest on Doug Stephan Good Day, a morning radio program. The program is broadcast across Radio America to nearly 400 stations and is available live over the Internet. Doug invited me on his show because of my upcoming book Military Kids Speak. The book is part of a national movement I am starting to help military kids and celebrate their strengths and successes.

Doug asked me what I would tell kids who feel worried about their mom or dad who is deployed. My response was brief to fit within the radio segment. Here are some additional ideas to help kids feel better.

1. Suggest that they talk about their feelings with their other parent, brother or sister
2. Suggest that they write a letter or send an e-mail to their deployed parent
3. Help them find a thought that feels just a little bit better than the worry they are feeling. Teach them to trade up their thoughts for better-feeling thoughts. Here are some ways to trade up.
a. Remind them of something coming up that they think is fun.
b. Offer them cookies and milk or another tasty treat.
c. Tell them they are not alone and that you miss their mom or dad, too.
d. Ask them to make a list of what items they think should go in the next care package you send to their mom or dad.
e. Help them notice what is great in their life at the moment.
f. Give them a hug and tell them you understand how they feel, then get ice cream.
g. Suggest that they make something to send to their mom or dad.
h. Give them a journal that they can keep privately. Teach them how to write about the way they feel, and to write about the way they want things to be.
i. Remind them that the deployment seems like a long time and that it will be over before they know it. Teach them the term this, too, shall pass.

Military kids have worries most kids never know. The emotional resilience military kids develop as young people is part of what makes them grow up to be leaders, movers and shakers!

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