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Staff Perspective: Celebrating the Month of the Military Child

Staff Perspective: Celebrating the Month of the Military Child

Marjorie Weinstock, Ph.D.

Since 1986, April has been acknowledged as the “Month of the Military Child,” celebrating the youngest members of the military family.

According to the most recent Department of Defense (DoD) demographics report there are 1,650,464 military children. Thirty-nine percent of Service members have children, who fall into the following age-groups:

  • 0-5 = 38%
  • 6-11 = 32%
  • 12-18 = 24%
  • 19-22 = 7% (*military children age 21-22 must be enrolled as full-time students)

As you can see from this data, 56% of military children are school-aged. It is common for these children to attend more than six different schools between kindergarten and 12th grade as a result of military moves, which is three times the rate of their non-military-connected peers.

While military life does bring some unique stressors (such as frequent moves), we also know that military children are generally very resilient. In my last blog, I wrote about resilience in military couples, and today I’d like to touch briefly on building resilience in military children. Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, developed the “7 Cs of child resilience” in 2006 to help build resilience in children. They are:

  • Competence: Competence is the feeling of knowing that you can handle a situation effectively.
  • Confidence: Confidence is the solid belief in one’s own abilities. It is derived from competence; children gain confidence by demonstrating their competence in real situations.
  • Connection: Developing close ties to family and community creates a sold sense of security that helps lead to strong values and prevents destructive paths to love and attention.
  • Character: Character is based on the development of a solid set of morals and values to determine right from wrong and to demonstrate a caring attitude toward others.
  • Contribution: Understanding the importance of personal contribution can serve as a source of purpose and motivation.
  • Coping: Children who learn to cope effectively with stress are better prepared to overcome life’s challenges.
  • Control: Children who realize they can control the outcomes of their decisions are more likely to realize that they have the ability to bounce back.

During the month of April, the CDP will be celebrating the Month of the Military Child by holding a “website takeover,” where we will highlight a number of resources on our website throughout the month. In addition to our existing page on military family resources (which includes links, books, blogs, apps, reports, and articles), look for new infographics related to military children (including one summarizing the 7 Cs of Child Resilience) and blogs on a variety of topics such as: highlighting challenges of COVID-19 on military families, caring for the mental health needs of military children, and strategies for maintaining quality family contact during deployments.

Also, be sure to join us throughout the month as we host a series of four CDP Presents webinars each Friday from 12:00-1:30 ET with subject matter experts in the field:

o Dr. Levingston will provide an overview of some of the unique stressors faced by military children (e.g., deployment, relocation, and injury) as well as common reactions children and adolescents may display. She will also explore how to build treatment plans and provide therapeutic interventions tailored to this population.

o Dr. Wadsworth will focus on the implications of parental deployments on military children, including evidence of correlates for children’s well-being and functioning. She will also explore factors that may mediate or moderate the effects of deployments on children as well as possible strategies for increasing military family resilience.

o Dr. Tison will discuss services available to military family members who have special needs, as well as common challenges these families might face. She will also focus on ways that providers might offer support to both children with special needs and their caregivers.

o Drs. Ling and Rossiter will describe the resource “I Serve 2: A Pocketcard for Healthcare Providers Caring for Military Children” and provide guidance for its utilization in clinical practice.

We hope that you will return to our website several times in April to check out the new content!

The opinions in CDP Staff Perspective blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science or the Department of Defense.

Marjorie Weinstock, Ph.D., is a Senior Military Behavioral Health Psychologist at the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

References:

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015, November 21). Building resilience in children.
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Building-Resilience/Pages/Building-Resilience-in-Children.aspx

Blaisure, K. R., Saathoff-Wells, T., Pereira, A., Wadsworth, S. M., & Dombro, A. L. (2016). Serving
military families: Theories, research, and application (2nd ed.)
. Routledge.

Ginsburg, K. R., & Jablow, M. M. (2015). Building resilience in children and teens: Giving kids
roots and wings (3rd ed.)
. American Academy of Pediatrics.

Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community & Family Policy.
(2019). 2018 demographics profile of the military community.
https://www.militaryonesource.mil/data-research-and-statistics/military-community-demographics/2018-demographics-profile

Staff Perspective: Celebrating the Month of the Military Child | Center for Deployment Psychology

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