Deployment takes a toll on children often in completely different ways than adults. Most of the time, young children are unable to verbalize how they feel. They may act out, have nightmares, lose interest in things they loved, become picky with foods, have a hard time sleeping – all of these are things many children with deployed parents experience.
One of the best ways to help a child who is facing a parent leaving or has one gone is by reading books that deal with both deployment and their feelings towards it. Books are an amazing way to help a child cope – they offer the validation of their feelings by letting them know it’s ok, and others feel the same way. They offer different ways of dealing with the huge life change of having a parent gone, and what they can do during that time away.
The books listed below are some both I and others recommend for any child facing or experiencing the loss of a parent for any extended amount of time. They include ones geared to Mom being deployed, a not often talked about but very real situation for military kids. They’re also wonderful for uncles, aunts, cousins, or any family member that may be deployed that your children are close to.
- Deployment – a book for younger children on what it means and how to cope
- My Dad’s Deployment – Activity Book (Also available for deployed Moms) – taking a military spin on preschool and elementary activities like time telling, mazes, etc.
- A Deployment Journal for Kids – offers all kinds of writing prompts, facts about deployment locations, spaces for saving letters, and a website.
- A Paper Hug – this book follows a little boy whose dad is deploying and how he copes when he leaves.
- Night Catch – a story about a soldier halfway around the world that uses the North Star to keep in touch.
- I Miss You! A Military Kid’s Book About Deployment – written by a social worker, this book helps children explore all the feelings they have but aren’t able to articulate about a parent being deployed.
- We Serve Too! A Child’s Book About Deployment – recognizing and honoring the child’s sacrifice when a parent is deployed.
- My Mom is Going Away, But She Will Be Back One Day – a special book that explains how families work when a parent is gone, includes a cut out for a letter on the back.
- When Your Mom Goes to War – different ways children cope when mom heads out on deployment.
- My Mommy Wears Combat Boots – helping children positively channel their emotions when their mother is gone.
Tell me about books you love for helping children cope. What are some other methods you use? Videos? Therapy/Counseling? Talking?