In this three-part series, we will be taking a deeper look into the stressors of military life, how they impact kids, and strategies to help children cope and heal. To read Part I, about deployments, click here.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Stress Health an initiative of the Center for Youth Wellness, to spread the message about the important issue of toxic stress in children. However, opinions expressed are my own.
Part of adjusting to military life is embracing the fact that you will be moving around frequently. Often times, you may not have control over the places where the military will be moving your family. Lilley (2018) states that “stress stemming from a move was a top-five concern across the board among the four groups that participated in the latest Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey: active-duty service members, military spouses, veterans and veteran spouses,: according to an article in Military Times. Not only is moving tough on a military spouse’s career, but it also affects children who have to start all over again in school.
Military families move, on average, once every three years. Just when they feel like they are settling in to a new area, it is time to relocate once again. While military children are extremely resilient, they also have a tough time transitioning into a new area, routine, and school. You can help them by minimizing the stress that comes with packing up, moving, and starting over by using some of the strategies listed below.
Give children time to process the move. Tell your child or children ahead of time about the move, so they too can process and adjust to the idea of moving.
Letting go rituals. Create goodbye rituals with children to help them process the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another. You may want to have the little ones draw pictures of things they’re going to miss, or as the older ones to take pictures of favorite places on their cell phone, then compile a scrapbook together. This closure process can help children come to terms with the move a little easier.
Try to provide consistent routines. Even though moving is chaotic, try to keep your routines consistent. This helps children build the resilience needed for the unknown by having the safety net of that consistent daily routine.
Make transitions as easy as possible. Try to find some of the same activities your family enjoys at the current station at the new station. This can make a new place feel more comfortable and familiar for your child and your entire family unit.
For more tips to help military children cope and transition with frequent moves, click here.
If you would like more information on toxic stress and ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences), visit Stress Health. It is never too late to start reviewing stress factors that can affect your child’s health in the long-term. Frequent moves are just one of the many stress-inducing situations in military life, but with appropriate support, children will persevere.
© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2018.
Lilley, K. (2018, January 17). Military Times. Moving-Related Stress? Military Family Survey Shows You are Far from Alone. Retrieved from https://www.militarytimes.com/home-hq/2018/01/17/moving-related-stress-military-family-survey-shows-you-are-far-from-alone/
Haworth, A. (2017, December 2). Military.com. 5 Ways to Help Your Military Child Deal with a Move. Retrieved from https://www.military.com/spousebuzz/2017/12/02/5-ways-help-your-military-child-deal-move.html
Military One Source. (2018, October 11). Nine Ways to Help Your Kids Cope with Moving. Retrieved from https://www.militaryonesource.mil/-/nine-ways-to-help-your-kids-cope-with-moving?inheritRedirect=true
Wendi Iacobello has been an Army wife for three years and part of military life for five years. She has spent the last nine years as an adult educator, has a Master of Arts in Educational Media, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. Her teaching career includes; Middle and High School Special Education, Correctional Education, and Community College Instruction in Early Childhood Education, Compensatory Ed, as well as Adult Basic Education. Currently, she is a blogger, freelance writer, instructional designer, and avid volunteer. In her free time, you can usually find her volunteering at USO’s story time, outdoors in the garden, running, cooking up a new recipe, or playing fetch with her adorable Beagle, Daizi. Wendi is extremely passionate about helping others find their inner strength by sharing her experiences, insight, resources, and inspirational stories on her blog Strength4Spouses.
I love the scrapbook/cell phone photos idea. I moved a lot when I was little so I often worry about our kids now that my husband is in the military. I scrapbooked just as a hobby back then and I can totally see how this could help with all the moving.
What a great post, Wendi! Frequent moves can be such a stressor for military children. I moved fourteen times before I was 18 years old, and while all those moves were not due to the military, they were incredibly stressful – changing schools, adjusting to a new area, and making new friends. Our military kids are such troopers! Thanks for raising awareness + providing such actionable strategies for military families. Establishing a routine is SO important!!!