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By Jason Jowers, MS, MFT

Everyday stressors can really run down the average family on an ongoing basis. Meal planning, scheduling, and personal and professional stress can cause a great deal of anxiety and can trickle down to kids in the family. And for military families, the pressure is even stronger when you add in all the circumstances involved in military life. Military children also deal with stressors unique to their culture.

Military children and youth are some of the most resilient kids out there. They must learn to be flexible and become comfortable with change. Parental deployments, PCSing, and relocations are all part of the norm for military kids.

Yet, despite this resiliency, military kids need help and support too. So, what are some ways we as service professionals can support, encourage, and take care of military kids? Here are some self-care strategies we’ve come across that military kids can begin utilizing today to be happier and healthier.

Self-Care for Military Kids Resources

  • We found this article from Centerstone @Centerstone on ways to take care of and support military children. Their recommendations are great and include:
    • Getting to truly know a military child or teen can go a long way. Ask about their interests, hobbies, and their friend groups to find ways to connect.
    • Another good way to support them is to be a good listener and ask about their feelings. They may be struggling with anxiety or depression or having a hard time with a deployment or relocation. It is important that military children and youth have a way to explore their feelings, discuss their concerns, and develop healthy coping skills.
    • Maintaining routines is key as well. Routines help bring about a sense of normalcy and stability. Established routines can be the glue that keeps things together for kids and teens when big changes are taking place around them.
  • This next article highlights the great work being done by Sesame Workshop and Sesame Street for Military Families. This article from the U.S. Dept. of Defense highlights their self-care content for military families. “The resources include videos demonstrating the importance of finding the little wins, being flexible with routines, meal planning and even learning how to be still and quiet.”
  • Finally, Military OneSource shares this post on the essentials for military youth and teens. There are ways to contact your child’s school liaison as well as look up military youth centers and teen adventure camps in your location.

Military kids and teens need all the support we can give. With the idea of that the whole family serves, it makes all the difference when we can support military kids as much as possible.

Cover Image: Pexels [Man Standing Beside His Wife Teaching Their Child How to Ride Bicycle by Agung Pandit Wiguna, May 28, 2018, CC0]