Explaining deployment to a preschooler
- January 2, 2013 at 10:14 am #20959
My daughter’s uncle is going to be deployed overseas. As a family, we are all nervous and sad during this time, but also so very, very proud. I am struggling with how to discuss this with my young child. How do you explain something like this to a preschooler both before it happens, but also while her uncle is away? I would love any insight anyone may have.January 2, 2013 at 11:59 am #20961
This is a really tough one. We experienced this in our family, too, with a family friend who is in the service. There are some great resources online for military families. Here’s a link to one that I remember accessing more than once: http://militaryfamily.about.com/od/deployment/f/explainingdeploymenttokids.htm
Best wishes to your family!January 21, 2014 at 8:05 am #20962
My husband is currently deployed. We have a three year old and a 1.5 year old. I think much depends on the maturity of your pre-schooler and how much they can verbalize and understand. But, we found telling our 3 year old the truth and making it real for him was best. We bought him a kid-friendly world map – showed him where daddy was going. Told him how Daddy was going to get there (plane) and all the places he was goign to land before he got to his final destination. While he doesn’t quite have a concept of time, he knows that daddy is going to be gone a long time and is ‘working’ far away. He tells everyone where daddy is (even the guys at Costco) and what he is doing. I think it’s slowly sinking in that Dad is "gone for a really long time" – but we haven’t had many tears over him being gone. We started a month or so in advance – dropping hints, starting to explain it – which I think helped in the long run – as it had sunk in already and we didn’t drop a huge stress ball on our child 2 days before dad left.
Lucky for us, Dad is deployed to an AF base and has access to internet and such – so technology has been our friend. We’ve been able to facetime and have phone calls 4-6 times a week – which is helpful for the kids. Dad normallly calls us during dinner – so it’s like we’re having a family meal. And, Dad tries to keep the preschooler invovled – Showing him his room, where his closet is, the pictures in his room, etc.
And, get the kids involved. Keeping them active with care packages sent to the deployed soldier is always fun. Kids like to help make cookies and draw pictures, etc. We also have a jar of hershey kisses – that says, "Kisses from Daddy" – and chocolate makes everyones day 🙂
And, we say a prayer each night before we go to bed asking to keep daddy safe while he’s working far away.
And display that flag. Nothing says you are more proud of a soldier than a good ol’ American flag.
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