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Children

 

PostalBears Cartoon_flower : Cartoon flower Stock Photo

 

 

Children may be small in size but their problem is as big as yours. Their struggle is possibly bigger because at least you have a little more understanding of how and why things happen but they can’t comprehend it all.

 

To them they have lost a parent and have no idea where they are. Younger ones have no concept of time so all they know is that the next day and then the next they awaken without them. This is why a Chuff Chart can be a help for them to do each night. It tends to give them a bit of an idea of how long Daddy is away and the countdown done by a picture bubbles calendar to then colour in a bubble or put on messages/diary of the dates he phones etc. Alternatively, you put some sweets in a big jar and eat just one a day with them to watch the level go down to R&R or to the end of the tour. Both methods show an important timeline.

 

Do anything with the children or for the children so they can keep busy and I am quite sure you will find many ways to do that. Just like you they need to have “busy time” and the kids can do many things that you do too. Involvement and parental bonding is a very big part of the solution to a lot of boredom and contemplation. By doing cookery or playing with the dough. Sending the results to Daddy add to the enjoyment. The child needs to be reassured. However don’t over do or spoil them by over trying. It won’t work if you go over the top and do too many things.

 

You not only have your problems to tackle but at the same time, you have to help the children tackle theirs.

 

Explain according to their age level of understanding where Mummy or Daddy is. They must never feel left. They are bound to hear jumbled tales from their school friends or see items on the TV. So for them ignorance is not bliss. Honesty is the best policy – much better than them getting unreliable information from elsewhere. You will be the one to judge how they should be told. It might be a good idea to have a word with the school teacher so that she can keep an eye out for any slight differences that may occur and she can take into account the reason why.

 

It is not helpful for very young children to know all the details of what is going on when their parent is away. They can't digest violent behaviour, and can become terrified by exposure to the graphic images and the feelings of horror and drama that we attach to the details. The following are ways to keep young children from becoming unnecessarily frightened.

 

Chat situations through as they crop up. Children can sense when you are feeling low and then it rubs off onto them.  They will pick up both the good and the bad.  More tantrums and tears may become usual and all their “not so nice” character traits could be enhanced.  Many restless nights or being unable to sleep at all is a toughie to overcome. Reluctance to go to bed and keeping the light on is a very common one. Bed-wetting can happen even if the child has never had this problem before.

Because a child is quiet and doesnt seem too emotional or may seem aloof could mean that they are fine but sometimes be aware they could be bottling up stress they have inside. So being the super Mum you are you will find a way to coax them out of their shell should this happen. Fingers crossed problems will be minimal throughout the tour. 

 

Somehow, you have to get through it all together, but don’t worry - you will.

 


 

Here are some ideas that may help to keep stresses down.

All kids like your attention and doing lots of grown up jobs together or just having tasks to complete will really help all of you. The days don’t seem to drag out so much and inwardly they feel important and proud that they are helping out both you and Mummy or Daddy by doing little tasks around the house.

Its sounds simple but it really works.

Get Mum or Dad to record a tape for them talking before they go on tour so the kids can listen to his voice any time that they want to.

 

Record loads of bedtime stories and fairy tales so that they can have a little bit played to them each night.

 

There are teddy bears with a recording device inside so that a little message by Mum or Dad can say something sweet or funny. Doing this can be a comfort for the kiddies to cuddle and squeeze teddy and hear it.

 

 

Involve them in choosing parcel items. Let it be their choice even if you don’t think it is a good one. After all it was the kiddies’ idea.  Let them help you to shop for the contents you send. Get them to participate in wrapping the parcel and posting it off. It will make them feel helpful.

 

For children who can write then let them send their own blueys and get their Dad to send separate ones back to them. It makes it more special.

 

Take your children swimming. Even teach them to swim if you think you can brave it (and don’t have others to look after). The exercise is good and it helps them to get to sleep more quickly. Most swimming baths have times for parents and babies.

 

Go for bike rides or go to the park and be sure to take a camera to capture some of the moments.

 

Joining groups like Cubs, Brownies, Scouts or Guides or other children’s clubs are all good. Joining ballet classes is also nice. Karate classes or sports activities can boost their morale. All of these expand their focus on something they can get involved in.

 

Children love to do gardening so let them have their very own flowerbed. Planting out, weeding and seeing the plants grow are very satisfying. Keep taking photos of the plants at various stages also ones of the kids doing their gardening. Do window boxes or growing herbs indoors if that is more suitable.

 

Have them do regular drawings and paintings so they can send them in the parcels. Play guess what it is – they will never get it right

 

Book suggestions:   I Miss You ! : A Military Kids Book About Deployment  by Beth Andrews

My Daddy's Going Away : Helping Families cope with paternal Seperation  by Christopher MacGregor

 

Visit the website, www.storybooksoldiers.co.uk Storybook Soldiers provides a link between parents who are deployed and their children.  Soldiers are recorded reading a bedtime story for their children.  Music and sound effects are added by trained volunteer editors. Brilliant!

 

 " So many of our troops have to spend long periods away from their young children, often missing some of the treasured milestones of childhood that are taken for granted by the general public.  Storybook Soldiers will no doubt help in bringing families a little closer, making the long months of separation somewhat easier to bear. "

General Sir Richard Dannatt
KCB CBE MC ADC Gen
Patron
September 2008
 

Contacts for the RAF : Storybook Wings

Storybook Wings Coordinator
Force Development Squadron
RAF Wittering
Peterborough
PE8 6HB
Tel: 01780 - 783838 ext 7538

Email: storybookwings@rafa.org.uk

Contacts for the Royal Navy : Storybook Waves

Lt Cdr Kath Hutton RN
NETS(E) Learning Centre (Nelson)
Rodney Block
Nelson Personnel Centre
HMNB Portsmouth
PO1 3HH
Tel: 023 9272 4288
Email: katharine.hutton476@mod.uk

 

 I Miss You !   : A Military Kid's Book About Deployment

My Daddy's Going Away:  Helping Families Cope with Paternal Separation