Seeing Themselves: Reflecting the Military Side of Young Children from Military Families

Girl hugging military dad

Being a military kid is a big deal for a child! Big enough, in fact, for child care providers as caring adults to acknowledge and support it as part of the child’s developing self-identity and to reflect and respect it in the child care environment in which military kids spend a big chunk of their time.

How do child care providers do that? Below we discuss in depth four strategies to integrate reflections of military life into the child care …

Strategies Child Care Providers Can Use to Help Young Children in Military Families Relieve Stress

Toddler girl crying

If you are a child care provider working with children in military families, it is important to understand the stresses of military life and to find ways to help children relieve stress in the child care setting. Even the youngest children may experience stress during major changes related to military service, such as the absence of a parent during deployment or moving to a new home.

Children also respond to the stress of the people around them. When the parent …

What Child Care Providers Need to Understand about Stress in Military Children

Child holding soldier's hand

There’s no question that military life can be stressful for all members of military families, including young children. Child care providers working with children from military families need to recognize that living in a military family has emotional ups and downs and find ways to help children cope with the stresses of military family life. The first step in helping children manage their stress is to understand how and why children in military families experience stress.

The Body’s Stress Response

Children's Books for Young Children in Military Families

Navy officer reading to children

Children’s books are such a great way to help children deal with change – and military life certainly has plenty of that!  Here are some books that can help young children deal with different changes that may occur in their families. The books in bold have a specific military theme and include characters in military families. Others are recommended because of how well they deal with emotions from a child’s perspective. Even though the situation doesn’t involve a military element, …

Welcoming a New Military Child into Child Care

Girl on first day of school

Being “the new kid on the block” is a feeling many of us can relate to. Being in a new environment can be emotionally challenging. Leaving home, friends, and all that’s familiar to relocate to a completely new community is especially hard, even for the most adaptable children. If you work with military families, you know that relocation, or PCS (Permanent Change of Station), can be  a very common experience. With each move, parents and children experience the discomfort of …

Coping with Change: Practical Ways That Child Care Providers Can Support Young Children from Military Families

Welcome home

Child care providers know that if there’s one thing about military family life that’s predictable, it’s that it is  unpredictable! Change happens. A lot. These changes usually affect children from military families in very significant ways that they neither control nor fully understand. Whether it’s a parent going far away or the return of parent, or a move to whole new place – the impact is enormous. Coping with such significant change is a monumental task for very young children. …

Coping with Change: Young Children in Military Families Find Comfort in the Familiar

Soldier giving girl high 5

As a child care provider, you know the importance of familiar routines for young children. They like to know when and what to expect. This is especially true for military children. Every child experiences changes as part of normal life. But as someone who provides child care for military families, you know that the changes common to military children are super-sized:

  • A parent is out of reach for long stretches of time…and then comes back, shaking everything up all over

Ensuring that Children’s War Play Is Healthy, Safe, and Positive

Boy playing with water gun

Three-year-old Derrick thinks about his daddy a lot. Maggie, his teacher, can tell because nearly every day she sees him pretending to be a soldier. When his dad’s National Guard unit was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan earlier in the year, Derrick would act out packing a suitcase, saying goodbye to his pretend family, and getting all his gear ready to “go to work” – gear that included a helmet and a gun. When his dad was injured in

Reflections of Military Life in Children’s Pretend Play

Boy playing with water gun
As Maggie surveys her active 3-year-olds on the playground, she notices one of the boys pointing a toy shovel like a gun out the window of the play structure. “Derrick!” she says as she comes closer, “you know we don’t play with guns at school. Find something else to play.” 

This is a situation that plays itself out over and over in child care programs. Many child care providers are uncomfortable with children pretending to use weapons and want to …

How Child Care Providers Can Help Deployed Parents and Their Children Stay Connected

Soldier kisses son

The separation of deployment is hard on everyone in a military family. But it’s especially difficult for families with young children because young children don’t understand or, worse yet, misunderstand the circumstances surrounding the separation. Deployment is difficult for the deployed parent because young children, especially infants and toddlers, grow and change so much in such a short period of time. Missing this exciting period of growth contributes to feelings of being disconnected and fears that the parent won’t …