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20 Jul

How Long Deployments Affect School-Age Children

Serving in the military is one of the greatest honors one can choose to show their love for their country. As time goes on and the idea of starting a family comes into the picture, however, long deployments and constant travel can be very difficult, especially for children who yearn for consistency in their lives.

Some military children adjust well, while others may not. This is why we chose to write this blog post. Note that the research we share here may come across as shocking and that our intention is to help share information that may benefit children who struggle to feel grounded when parents serve long deployments.

There are many indications that a child may not be adjusting well. Perhaps you notice her eating and sleeping patterns shifting dramatically. Perhaps he begins to show uncharacteristic aggression toward himself or others. Perhaps your teenager becomes listless and stops caring about school, or your toddler suddenly clings tighter to you than a pair of kid’s pantyhose. If this carries on, it may mean your child is struggling to adjust.  

So how can you tell if long deployments are what is causing your child stress? The US Department of Veteran Affairs tells us: “Children's reactions to a parent's deployment vary by child, and more broadly, by a child's developmental stage, age, and presence of any preexisting psychological or behavioral problems. Very young children may exhibit separation anxiety, temper tantrums, and changes in eating habits. School-age children may experience a decline in academic performance, and have mood changes or physical complaints. Adolescents may become angry and act out, or withdraw and show signs of apathy.”

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