NAFCC Presentation Slides- Military Child Care, July 28, 2012

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Ways family child care providers can support young children in military families as they deal with stresses of military life

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NAFCC Presentation Slides- Military Child Care, July 28, 2012

  1. 1. Helping Young Children Handle the Changes of Military Life: The Role of the Early Childhood Professional This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Family Policy, Children and Youth, U.S. Department of Defense under Award No. 2010‐48869‐20685. 
  2. 2. TODAY’S TOPICS• Changes faced by children in military families• Effects of stress on the developing brain• Strategies to help children handle the stresses of military life• Communication with military families
  3. 3. BRAINSTORMING• What do you know about the experiences of children in military families?• What changes and transitions do children in military families typically face?• How might these changes affect young children?
  4. 4. MAJOR CHANGES IN MILITARY LIFE• Permanent Change of Station (PCS)• Deployment• Reunification• Parental injury• Death of service member• Other changes
  5. 5. CHILDREN IN MILITARYFAMILIES FACE STRESS is any external stimulus thatthreatens the normal balance of equilibrium in the body
  6. 6. THE STRESS RESPONSE• Stressors cause changes in the brain » Release of cortisol » “Fight or flight” response » Increased heart rate and blood pressure » Highly focused attention• Primitive parts of the brain take over
  7. 7. LEVELS OF STRESS • Positive Stress » Everyday experiences • Tolerable Stress » More challenging stressors » Presence of supportive adult(s) • Toxic Stress » Extreme stresses » Absence of support
  8. 8. DANGERS OF TOXIC STRESS• Fewer brain connections• Persistent hyper-arousal• Impulsivity and aggression• Reduced ability to learn
  9. 9. KEY FACTORS THAT MITIGATE STRESS• Loving, responsive, consistent relationships• Safe environments• Consistent routines and expectations• Experience regulating positive stresses
  10. 10. ADULT-CHILD INTERACTION THE “STILL FACE” VIDEO(See http://www.zerotothree.org/child‐development/early‐childhood‐mental‐health/to view this video)
  11. 11. STRESS IN CHILDRENFROM MILITARY FAMILIES• Multiple changes in caregivers• Leaving behind what is familiar• Adapting to new environments » Family and home » Community » Child care• Stress in adults• A parent who comes home “different”
  12. 12. CHANGES IN PARENT- CHILD RELATIONSHIPS AFTER DEPLOYMENT• Unexpected developmental changes• Changes in family routines• Young children with little memory for parent• Stranger anxiety• Confusion and stress
  13. 13. HOW CHILDREN RESPOND TOSTRESSES OF MILITARY LIFE• All children need extra emotional support• Each child adapts to change differently » Withdrawal » Aggression » Regression• Some children are more resilient than others
  14. 14. STRATEGIES TO SUPPORT CHILDREN IN MILITARY FAMILIES• Create a positive environment• Provide support for individual children• Build relationships with families• Help connect children with the deployed parent
  15. 15. CREATING A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENTEstablish and follow regular routinesCreate a safe, peaceful environmentChoose developmentally appropriateactivitiesSet and enforce limitsProvide opportunities toexpress feelings through play
  16. 16. SUPPORTING INDIVIDUAL CHILDRENBuild a secure attachmentIdentify and respond toindividual needsLabel children’s emotionsBe prepared for a child to enter orleave your home suddenlySupport children through transitions
  17. 17. BUILDING SECURE ATTACHMENT• Be nurturing• Be respectful• Be consistent• Be dependable• Be patient
  18. 18. LABELING EMOTIONS• Help children identify and name feelings (sad, angry, lonely, excited, etc.)• Identify both positive and negative emotions• Avoid telling children they are “okay”
  19. 19. IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL NEEDSTake time to observe the child’sbehavior and moodRespond to non-verbal cuesCommunicate with families
  20. 20. CONNECTING CHILDREN TO A DEPLOYED PARENT • Ask the parent to record a story for the child before leaving • Create a photo book of the child with the parent • Allow for electronic communication • Encourage the child to create art or stories for the parent
  21. 21. EVERYDAY COMMUNICATION WITH FAMILIES• Establish a relationship from the beginning• Have an open door policy• Exchange information with families• Suggest activities for parent and child to do together
  22. 22. SUPPORTING FAMILIES DURING TIMES OF STRESS• Talk with parents prior to deployment• Check in daily during transitions• Get to know grandparents or other substitute caregivers Help families seek outside support
  23. 23. FOR MORE INFORMATIONMilitary Families Learning Networkblogs.extension.org/militaryfamilies/child-care/
  24. 24. QUESTIONS? IDEAS?Diane Bales, Ph.D.Cooperative ExtensionHuman Development and Family ScienceThe University of Georgiadbales@uga.edu

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