Corinn A. Elmore, PhD
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
The healthy development of the child dependents of military service members is fundamental to the effectiveness of our national security. As a Health Psychologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, I developed an integrated behavioral health service specifically targeting pediatric military dependents in a large military hospital. Currently, there are nearly 2 million children of active duty military service members, which is almost double the number of active duty service members. While these families are resilient and diverse, they also are exposed to unique stressors such as, frequent moves, parental separation, family reintegration, and isolation, which can be difficult to cope with at times. Listed below are a few strategies that may help military families cope with these stressors.
Top 5 Coping Strategies for Military Families
1. Maintain routines. While life can be adventurous and exciting in a military family, consistency can be difficult. Help your child adjust by maintaining routines as best as possible, including morning and evening routines, bedtimes, and free time with family.
2. Be transparent. Let your child know as much information about when their parent is scheduled to leave, return, and any changes that may occur in the family before the deployment.
3. Use your village. Military culture is unique and can often be best understood by those who have gone through it. Engage with other military families in your community. Swap child care. Have play dates. Use military resources. Remember that you are not alone.
4. Stay in touch. Technology has provided us with more ways to stay in touch than ever before. If possible, schedule FaceTime calls, write letters, and/or keep a family calendar for when parents will return.
5. Recognize your strengths. Children in military families are typically skilled at adapting to new environments, have lots of cul