By Kelly Blasko
One of the biggest resources for military families is other military families. For kids, this is especially true. Who knows about moving a lot, making new friends, or dealing with a deployed parent than another military kid?
The message boards on Military Kids Connect give tweens (ages 9-12) and teens (ages 13-17) the opportunity to talk to other military kids in a safe, anonymous environment. When they’re not talking about favorite cartoons, hobbies, and which Pokemon is best, kids on the message boards like to seek and offer advice. A common topic is moving – anxiety about moving overseas, how to make new friends, what will happen to pets, etc.
Kids also talk about missing deployed parents and changes in a returned parent’s behavior – issues specific to the military kid population. Of course, like all kids (and adults), they ask for advice on how to tell if someone likes you. Parents can suggest their kids go to the message board when they have a question. “Go ask on MKC. Maybe another military kid had the same experience.”
By using the message boards, kids can make friends that they’ll still have, even when they move. Peer groups are important in any child’s development. MKC encourages peer-to-peer support in that unique and important population – military kids. Parents can also learn more about what their child is experiencing related to a parent returning with post-traumatic stress, a physical injury or in the cases of a death. The “Tough Topics” modules provide first hand personal stories by military kids on how they coped with this situation and more about family adjustment.
Parents can learn about helpful ways to talk their kids about any of these circumstances. Overall these modules facilitate opportunities to talk with their kids about the challenges they may be facing. MilitaryKidsConnect.org is an engaging way to help military youth with the day-to-day challenges of deployment and may even help enhance family resilience and support for the deployed service member.
Dr. Kelly Blasko is a Research Psychologist and Subject Matter Expert for the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2), and the project lead for MilitaryKidsConnect.org.