Military Kids

Military Kids and Homecoming: How to Ease the Transition

Every military child is unique and responds differently to the life changes accompanying military life. As a parent, this makes things extra challenging. You may find yourself wondering how your child will transition after your service member returns home from deployment. Will the reunion go well? Will it be challenging?

Moreover, what are possible signs and symptoms to look out for in military kids experiencing a transition to life after deployment? And if there are symptoms, how do you best help your child cope and find balance with a new normal?

Free printable for common behavior in military kids after homecoming. Plus, how to help kids cope and transition.

Today I’m sharing just a few possibilities when it comes to military kids and homecoming, and know that if your child responds differently, it’s likely completely normal. Like you, I am navigating the ups and downs of military life as best as I can.

And psst…there’s a free printable pack at the end of this post for you to save and use for later!

Common behavior for military kids after homecoming.

For babies 0-12 months:

  • Cries, fusses
  • Appears indifferent towards the returning parent
  • Clings to the most familiar caregiver
  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits
  • Changes in bowel/ bladder routine

For toddlers 1-3 years:

  • Cries without cause
  • Act indifferent towards the returning parent
  • Attention seeking behavior
  • Cling or prefer the other parent
  • Regress in development (toilet accidents, baby talk, night waking, etc.)
  • Separation anxiety once service member returns to work

For pre-schoolers 3-5 years:

  • Feels angry or mad
  • Attention seeking behavior
  • Acts demanding or whines
  • Feels service member left because of them
  • Talks and clings to returning parent to let them know everything that happened
  • Fears the returning parent will leave again

For school aged 5-12 years:

  • Feels angry or mad about the deployment
  • Anxious about discipline or punishment from returning parent.
  • Attention seeking behavior
  • Talks and clings to returning parent to let them know everything that happened
  • Fears the returning parent will leave again

For teens 13-18:

  • Acts like they don’t care
  • Anxious about house rules changing
  • Feels the returning parent may not love them as much
  • Feels angry, mad or resentful towards returning parent

Common ways to help military kids reconnect after homecoming.

For babies 0-12 months:

  • Provide physical care through holding, feeding, rocking baby
  • Get involved in child’s day to day care
  • Be patient

For toddlers 1-3 years:

  • Allow toddlers time to feel comfortable.
  • Play games and engage in play with the toddler at his or her level
  • Speak in a gentle or soft voice

For pre-schoolers 3-5 years:

  • Allow your child to share without judgement
  • Accept your child’s thoughts and feelings
  • Allow your child to choose games and activities to do with returning parent
  • Ask the child to share new things with you (favorite books, toys, games, etc.)

For school aged 5-12 years:

  • Encourage your child for accomplishments during separation
  • Allow your child share new things with you (school projects, toys, pictures, etc.)
  • Stay positive and focus on current behavior
  • Avoid focusing on negative behavior that occurred during separation
  • Get involved in your child’s favorite everyday activities

For teens 12-18 years:

  • Share age-appropriate, positive deployment experiences
  • Offer undivided attention when child attempts to reconnect
  • Stay positive; avoid criticism
  • Allow your child privacy when needed
  • Get involved in your child’s favorite everyday activities

Click on the image below to download the printable pack as a PDF file and save for later use!

military kids homecoming behavior

Other tips and ideas for a smoother transition.

1. Prepare for mixed and intense feelings.

2. Adjust the celebration to fit your child.

3. Keep things simple.

4. Arrange for the returning parent to spend small amounts of one-on-one time with each child and work your way up.

5. Keep a sense of humor.

6. Encourage the child to allow the returning parent to participate in their daily routines.

Want more on military life?

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