Thursday, April 28, 2011

April Is the Month of the Military Child


Each year, the Department of Defense recognizes military families by celebrating the Month of the Military Child throughout April.1 Service members with children across the nation can take this opportunity to spend time with their loved ones, while also learning about the importance of family resilience and readiness. The information and resources below can help you communicate with your family throughout the Month of the Military Child and the entire deployment cycle.

Communicate With Your Children With Fun Family Activities

The Month of the Military Child is a great opportunity to find new ways to bond with your kids. Use the information below to find fun and educational resources to try with your children.

Find local events for military children in your community
Operation Military Kids can help you reach out to other military families, learn about the latest current events and find training and kits for preparing your family for deployment. If you’re looking for specific events in your state, access the Operation Military Kids state information Web page or check out your local installation’s Web site, community action boards and local support organizations.

Volunteer to write letters or do crafts together
Flags Across the Nation brings military children and families together to participate in art and photo contests, make blankets for troops, wounded warriors and veterans and do other fun creative activities. Plus, your children can use Flags Across the Nation’s free online coloring pages.

Color in story books specially designed for military children
Coloring can provide children a way to have fun playing while also learning about issues they may face when a parent deploys. Download and print the coloring sheets Goodbyes are Hard [PDF 812KB], I Can Do That! [PDF 792KB] and Coloring Book Pages for Kids [PDF 2.2MB], or ask your installation’s family readiness group or military family life consultant about where to find additional coloring books for your children.

Download free tools for scrapbooking and journaling
The Month of the Military Child Web site is specifically designed to educate children by involving them in arts and craft projects, scrapbooking, journaling and tailored lesson plans. Free resources for these fun and educational activities are available for download to all members of the military community.

Communicate With Your Children About Deploymen


While the resources above are excellent opportunities to share activities and communicate with your children during the Month of the Military Child, deployment may mean that other types of conversations are called for throughout the year. Use the tips below to effectively reach children of all ages when it’s time to discuss the meaning of deployment.2

Be thoughtful about sharing your emotions
Try not to share too much (by losing control) or too little (by showing no emotion) with your children.

Maintain normal family routines
Regular activities like family games, bed times or celebrations are important to keep up.

Listen to your children and their concerns
Kids can have concerns about their parents that are difficult to express, so be available when they are ready to communicate.

Monitor media coverage in your household
Limit children’s exposure to media coverage of the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere around the globe to help reduce their anxiety about a parent’s deployment.
Take care of yourself
Find time to relax and accept help from family or friends if you’re feeling overwhelmed — parents can communicate better when well-rested. (Read the Real Warriors article “Caring for Yourself While Helping Support Your Service Member” for more information.)

You Are Not Alone

Additional tools for family support are always available. If you need assistance finding resources for your children or service member, don’t hesitate to log on to Real Warriors Live Chat or call the DCoE Outreach Center at 866-966-1020. Trained health resource consultants are available 24/7 to offer free, confidential guidance on resources for resilience, recovery and reintegration for all military families.

Additional Resources

Sources

1 Sanchez, Elaine. “DoD Celebrates Month of Military Child,” American Forces Press Service. Published April 1, 2011.
2Helping Children Cope During Deployment,” [PDF 425 KB], Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Last accessed April 21, 2011.
3American Academy of Pediatrics, cover letter for Mr. Poe and Friends [PDF 50KB]. Last accessed April 21, 2011.



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