For a lot of kids, being the child of a serving member of the armed forces or Veteran can be tough – moving to new places, giving up old friends and making new ones, adjusting to new schools and new subjects. But, being a military/Veteran child also has its own benefits that combine to create strong kids who are flexible, adaptable, mature, and have a strong sense of family and responsibility.
In April of each year, we want to celebrate the children of serving and Veteran families, to recognize the sacrifices they make as well as their strengths, and to provide them and their families with resources that can help when times are harder.
Check out these resources and activities that we’ve found helpful to support military and Veteran kids.
- Celebrate the shared experiences of military and Veteran children! Download our graphic, fill in the blank with your own experience, and share a picture on your social media with the #YouKnowYouAreAMilitaryKid hashtag. Download the graphic »
- Filling a box with special items can be a great way for a military parent and child to stay connected, not just when the military member is away from home, but also when they’re dealing with the emotional challenges of PTSD and other mental health concerns. Here are some great tips on how to put one together: cmfmag.ca/deploy_tipster/memory-box-tip-32
Parents, while things may feel hard at times, your kids will be OK. They may be feeling the absence of a deployed parent, or living with a Veteran with PTSD. These are hard things, but by talking with one another, sharing feelings, and developing coping strategies, they will gain skills that will last them a lifetime. Skills such as understanding challenges to mental health, either their own or someone else’s, communicating about feelings, and being compassionate.
Kids notice when their parents or caregivers are not OK. Through communication and love, they can keep their feet on the ground, understand that they are not to blame for someone else’s struggles and learn that sometimes it’s OK not to be OK. We hope the following resources will support your family in good times and in bad:
- The Mind’s the Matter: If you are or you support a military kid who has a family member dealing with an operational stress injury such as PTSD, The Mind’s the Matter is a great video resource with real-life examples and tips on how to understand the situation, and manage negative feelings and behaviours.
- Guide to Working with Military Kids: This guide from Canadian Forces Morale & Welfare Services and Kids Help Phone offers great insights on working with and supporting military kids.
- We Have Superpowers: We Have Superpowers is a kids’ book celebrating the ways children of Canadian Armed Forces members and Veterans support their parents through injury/illness.
- CAFKIDS – Crisis Texting Service: Did you know that kids and youth from military families living in Canada have 24/7 access to a free, confidential crisis texting service? Text CAFKIDS to 686868 anytime to get mental health and well-being support.