Supporting young children throughout the deployment process

Learn about resources that are available to help support young children during the deployment process and other unique, military-connected situations.

Deployment can be a very difficult time for both service members and their families. Photo credit: Pixabay.
Deployment can be a very difficult time for both service members and their families. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Did you know that there are more than 20,000 military children and youth in the state of Michigan? All branches of the military both active, guard and reserves are represented among Michigan’s military families. Chances are there is a military child or teen in the community or school where you live. Our military children and youth look exactly like non-military children and youth, however, they do experience special situations and circumstances that are unique to having a family member serve in the military.  

One of these unique challenges includes having service members deploy. According to the Parent’s Guide to the Military Child during Deployment and Reunion, deployment can be defined as “the movement of an individual or military unit within the United States or to an overseas location to accomplish a task or mission.” These missions or tasks can be training activities, supporting communities during times of disaster, helping foreign countries or fighting in a war. Deployment can be a very difficult time for both service members and their families.

Finding resources to help support your family before, during and after deployment can be overwhelming!  Did you know that Sesame Street offers specific support to military families experiencing deployment through the Listen, Talk, Connect tool kit? The tool kit helps support military families with children between the ages of 2 and 5 as they cope with the feelings, challenges and concerns experienced during different stages of deployment. The Listen, Talk, Connect DVD tool kit includes the video “Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Military Families During Military Deployment.” The kit also includes video and parent/caregiver materials designed to help children of injured veterans and other returning service members adjust to the changes in their parents. In addition, there are links to helpful websites, videos and materials that parents and caregivers can download to help support their children during all phases of the deployment cycle.

Wishing that you could take these materials with you while you are on the move? Now Sesame Street also offers a mobile app that is compatible with iPhones, iPads and Android phones. The Sesame Street for Military Families app allows military families to access videos, articles, storybooks, parent guides and more to help support military children through transitions they may experience in a military connected family.

If you are looking for more articles about deployment support, check out Finding Support for Children and Youth with Deployed Family Members for a helpful checklist on who might support your child or youth during your service member’s deployment and the Emotional Cycle of Deployment that explains each stage of the deployment cycle and gives helpful things you can do to keep your family connected. You can also find additional deployment support information on the Military OneSource website, the Operation: Military Kids website and the 4-H Military Partnerships website.

For additional articles on deployment as it relates to child development, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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