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141st - Deployment Resources (Ages 3-5)

Deployment - Emotional Signs and Coping Strategies

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Children: Ages 3-5 

Pre-Deployment 

Emotional Signs:
Clings to people or favorite toy
Unexplained crying/tearfulness
Changed relationships with same age friends
Prefers adults over same aged friends
Increased aggression 

Suggestions for Coping:
Listen carefully to them and accept their feelings
Reinforce that you love them unconditionally
Express interest in their activities (games, books, songs)
Ask child to draw a special picture for parent to take with them
Brainstorm with children creative ways of keeping in touch...cassette tapes, puzzle letters, encoded messages, etc

During Deployment 

Emotional Signs:
Clings/unexplained crying tearfulness
Changed relationships with same aged friends
Prefers adults over same-age friends
Increased aggression, shrinking away from people
Shrinking away from people
Sleep difficulties (nightmares, waking)
Regressing in toileting/thumb sucking
Eating difficulties 

Suggestions for Coping:
Give children a method of measuring the passage of time such as a ceremonial crossing-off on each day on the calendar
Talk about the deployed parent often and spend time looking at scrapbooks and photo albums with children
Help children "write" letters and encourage them to draw pictures to send

Reunion / Homecoming 

Emotional Signs:
Feels guilty for making parent go away
Shrinks away from returning parent
Intense anger at home/school
Needs "proof" parent is real
Pokes, hits, tests limits
Acts out to get attention
Is overly demanding 

Suggestions for Coping:
Be affectionate and playful with your spouse; your toddler will join in
Sit on floor and wait for your little one to approach you
Never force your toddler to hug, kiss, or play with you. Listen carefully to them and accept their feelings
Reinforce that you love them unconditionally
Express interest in their activities (games, books, songs)