One Too Many Moves: Helping Military Kids Cope

The constant moves that accompany military life can be difficult for adults, but they are typically much more traumatic for teenagers and young children. After all, stability is critical in a young child’s life to help them feel secure, and teenagers spend a lot of time forging personal connections with their peers. Because of this, they can feel really depressed and anxious when they are constantly being forced to adjust to new environments and make new friends. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help military children adjust to this lifestyle.

1. Give Your Teenagers Access to the Internet – It will be vital for your teenagers to have the opportunity to stay connected to the friends that they make in different areas. For example, if you are stationed in Alexandria, Virginia, for a couple of years, your teen will need to have the opportunity to keep in touch with the friends they made there when you eventually get the order to move to a new base.

2. Let Your Child Decorate their Room – Without consistency, young children can end up feeling insecure. Therefore, you need to take steps to ensure that they have the opportunity to create a safe environment for themselves. One good option is to allow them to decorate their room after each move so that they can arrange all of their belongings in a manner that makes them feel more secure.

3. Give Children as Much Notice as Possible – Anyone who has lived on a military base knows that you can quickly get the order to move, but it is still imperative to give your children as much notice as possible about the move. For example, if you find out that you need to be packed up and moved within a week, you should immediately have a family meeting to let everyone know what is going on so that your children have the opportunity to say goodbye to their friends.

4. Encourage Open Communication – It is easy to get wrapped up in your own life and responsibilities, especially when you wear a military uniform to work, but you need to make sure that your children know that they can talk to you about their feelings. Keep in mind that many so-called military brats believe that they are supposed to bury their feelings, and this can cause them to lash out in a very negative way. Therefore, you need to ensure that you keep the lines of communication open at all times so that your child does not go down a bad path.

5. Involve your Child in the Home Search– While on many military bases, the housing is on base and assigned to you, this is not always the case. Depending on the rank of the enlisted and the base you have been stationed to, there may be the possibility of living on off base housing. Fort Belvoir is an example of a base that offers more options for off base housing than on base for families. In this case, you can let your child be in on the hunt for Homes for sale in Alexandria, VA, where Fort Belvoir is located. By involving your child on the home search, they can feel more included in the decision and feel a sense of pride for their new home.No one enjoys moving, and children often have a difficult time understanding why they need to leave all of their friends behind. However, if you discuss the situation with them openly and take steps to help make them feel more secure, you should be able to get through each move without dealing with any serious issues from your child or teenager.
As an army brat, writer Melanie Fleury was accustomed to moving several times a year. She remembers fondly the times that she was included in the decision making vs. the times that she was blindsided by a move. 

Photo Credit: teen help