This booklet is intended for professionals to use with military parents and explores the issues of stress, trauma, grief, and loss as it relates to supporting young children affected by a military parent’s deployment, injury, or death.
The military families with whom you work are experiencing significant challenges. These include multiple and extended deployments, injuries to body and mind, and loss of a Service member. At the same time, the development of their babies and toddlers moves forward.
Many people believe babies and toddlers are “too little” to understand what’s going on around them. The reality is, they are “amazingly tuned into the behaviors and emotions shown by the significant caregivers in their lives, including parents, grandparents, relatives, teachers, and other adults” (Osofsky, 2007, p. 4). Although they may not understand the details, they know and are affected by stressful family events.
“Researchers are just beginning to explore and understand the emotional consequences of ongoing stressors experienced by infants and toddlers whose parents are in the military” (Thompson, 2005, p. 49). What they do know is that children’s early development depends greatly on the health and well-being of their parents. Warm and responsive relationships can buffer babies and toddlers from the effects of stress (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2000).
In addition to essential information and resources, the voice and perspective of the youngest children are shared throughout this booklet for family members, caregivers, and professionals to reference and utilize in their support of babies and toddlers.