Deployment is hard on everyone involved and often we try to put on a brave face in order to prevent those we love from worrying about us.
Unfortunately that same brave face we put on often spills over to our children and they also make an attempt to keep it together and keep their fears and worries to themselves in order to keep from worrying their parents.
As deployments increase so does childhood depression among military children. Children face the same concerns and fears as their parents but often depression in children is overlooked as a “stage” they are going through and sometimes even mistaken for rebellious behavior. Often extra pressure is put on a child as the departing parent often asks a child to take care of mom or dad.
Children take such statements very seriously and often feel as if they fail if the parent back home is feeling sad or depressed.
There are many signs of childhood depression that are mistaken for moodiness or bad behavior. If you notice that your child is exhibiting any of the following behaviors it is important to talk to your child and seek help as quickly as possible.
Lack of appetite
Loss of interest in usual activities, hobbies or friends
Decline in school work
Trouble dealing with others
Sleeping too much
As parents we do try to protect our children from all the bad things in the world and even more so when a parent is at risk, but not talking about these feelings or pretending that everything is just fine is not always in the best interest of your children. Talk with your children about being scared, sad and lonely for the parent that is deployed and encourage your children to talk to you or a trusted friend. Bottling these feelings inside only makes childhood depression worse. if you show your child that it is not a bad thing to express their feelings, you will have a healthier and happier child.