FamilyOfaVet - Real world info about PTSD, TBI, & life after combat
FamilyOfaVet - Real World info about PTSD, TBI, & life after combat.

Military & Veteran Families Face
Stress and Secondary PTSD

Military and veteran families are at risk of developing secondary PTSD.  Children in
these families are exposed to stress levels that could be considered toxic according to
The American Academy of Pediatrics.  The National Center for Child Traumatic Stress
notes that, “Military children experience unique challenges related to military life and
culture. These include deployment-related stressors and reintegration.”  Military children
live with the constant fear of losing a parent, parental separation, moving and making
new friends, all while living in a household with one often overloaded parent holding down
the fort. The dynamics of welcoming a returning parent that has been injured physically
or mentally is real. Children often mimic behaviors of a returning parent with Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder. Even an at home parent struggling with anxiety can have a
significant impact on their children’s wellbeing. Managing stress as a family needs to be a
high priority.

Moms, dads, children, and teenagers can take steps to handle stress in a
healthy manner.

  • Be aware that children are sensitive to stress and they can pick up on your
    anxiety. Fear and worry can quickly become the focus. Let children see you apply
    stress management techniques and demonstrate self-care. Self-care is a gift you
    give yourself and your family. Stress is contagious, but so is relaxation.

  • Be patient and talk fears and concerns through to a positive outcome. Much
    unnecessary anxiety is due to expecting a negative outcome. You and your
    children deserve to expect a positive outcome. Do this for yourself and your

  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings even if they seem silly to you. What seems minor
    to an adult can be monumental to a child. Fill in the blanks for children. Let them
    know that you have a plan and address their concerns in an optimistic and
    respectful manner.

  • Commit to spending fun downtime with your family. Laughing and bonding helps
    children to feel safe, loved and less anxious. You too will receive stress reducing

4 proven techniques to help you and your children manage stress:

  • Use affirmations or positive statements to counteract stress. Teach your children
    to take a break and say, “I am calm. I am relaxed. I am safe. Daddy is coming home
    soon.” Write a positive statement and have your child carry it in their pocket for the
    day. Put a list in the back of their school notebook for them to access at any time.

  • Create a visualization or a happy thought. Create a happy thought that children
    can “go to” when stressed or worried. Develop a short story or scene that your
    child can think of when they are fearful or anxious. It can be as simple as hugging
    a parent or as complex as sliding down rainbows into gold colored water.

  • Practice controlled breathing. Taking slow deep breaths can help parents and
    children lower anxiety and anger. Any age child, teen, or adult including those with
    special needs; Autism, Aspergers, ADHD, ADD, SPD, and PTSD can learn to bring
    their energy level down and feel in charge of themselves. Be the breathing leader
    and let your family see you…. Breathe in 2,3,4 and out 2,3,4…In 2,3,4 and ahhhh

  • Use progressive muscle relaxation to help your child to fall asleep. Relax your child’
    s mind and body by telling various muscle groups to relax. Start with your child’s
    feet and work your way up to their head or reverse the order. After a few tries your
    child will be able to use this technique on their own. “I am going to relax my legs. I
    will relax my legs. My legs are relaxing. My legs are relaxed.” For a variation, try
    active progressive muscular relaxation. Tighten various muscle groups and relax.
    “Hold, hold, hold…..Ahhhhh…” Your turn next!

This article was written by Lori Lite, the founder of Stress Free Kids, who has created a
line of books and CDs designed to help children, teens, and adults decrease stress,
anxiety, and anger.

All of the above mentioned techniques are easy to introduce to your family with products
from Stress Free Kids (and if you decide to purchase them, please use the buttons below
so that will get credit :)  Thanks!!).

Ms. Lite’s books, CDs, and lesson plans are considered a resource for parents,
psychologists, therapists, child life specialists, teachers, and yoga instructors. Lori is a
certified children’s meditation facilitator and Sears’ Manage My Life parenting expert. For
more information visit  
Stress Free Kids and for daily advice follow Lori on Twitter and
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