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The Effects of Military Deployment and Post-Deployment Reintegration Children Michael Rovaris, LCSW.

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Presentation on theme: "The Effects of Military Deployment and Post-Deployment Reintegration Children Michael Rovaris, LCSW."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Effects of Military Deployment and Post-Deployment Reintegration Children Michael Rovaris, LCSW

2 Reintegration and Reunion from a Child’s Perspective For military parents of young children and the many adults who care for them Content will include: The core social emotional needs of children How events or circumstances that are unique to the military way of life can impact the caregiver/child relationship: Reintegration/Reunion Deployment How emotional and physical injuries of parents impact the parent child relationship Strategies to assist families

3 Guiding Principle of This Presentation Children and infants are affected by stress and trauma associated with deployments and homecomings Military life is often demanding The military has unique cultures that can vary by branch, installation, mission and family Military families have historically been remarkably resilient Today’s circumstances can be extraordinarily difficult

4 The Importance of the Early Years EARLY EXPERIENCES MATTER! EARLY EXPERIENCES MATTER! Period of extraordinary growth Babies are born “wired” to learn Development is continuous For very young children, physical, cognitive, language and social/emotional development are “inextricably linked” Babies learn in the context of relationships (Parlakian, R. and Seibel, 2002, p 5)

5 Nature vs. Nurture? “Human development is a blend of nature and nurture, genes and environment. There is no cognitive, perceptual, emotional, or motor skill that is not influenced by both of these factors.” -- Eliot, L. 1999, p. “The mind emerges from the activity of the brain, whose structure and function are directly shaped by interpersonal experience.” -- Siegel, 1999, p. 76

6 ATTACHMENT IS… EVERYTHING  Globally defined as a lasting connectedness between human beings  When used as an early childhood relationship construct, it defines the child’s view of the relationship “There is no such thing as a baby.” -- Winnicott, D., 1960

7 The Irreducible Needs of Children: What Every Child Must Have to Grow, Learn and Flourish: Ongoing nurturing relationships Physical protection/safety and regulation Experiences tailored to individual differences Developmentally appropriate experiences Limit-setting, structure and expectations Stable, supportive communities and culture Protecting the future (Brazelton and Greenspan, 2000 )

8 The 7 Gifts that Child Care Providers Can Offer Very Young Children Support Security Predictability Focus Encouragement Expansion Nurturance Lally, J.R..

9 Let’s Be Fair Misattunement Happens! That’s ok – without parental missteps and other challenges there would be no opportunities to learn adaptation skills and the art of resilience. Repair is needed. Balance is key

10 Secure Attachment Relationships “ All children are born wired to form relationships. In fact, establishing a close, nurturing bond with a primary caregiver is a major developmental task for infants and toddlers and one that is fundamental to future development.” -- Parlakian and Seibel, 2002, p. 5

11 “Strategies for Stacking the Deck” Our relationships with the children in our care are built over time through our actions and words. Building block words and actions include: “I love you. You are special.” “You are safe.” “You can trust me-and others-to be there for you.” “The world is filled with interesting, fun things to explore and discover.”

12 “Strategies for Stacking the Deck” (continued) The process of building a trusting, nurturing relationship with a child means: Trying to understand what his/her sounds, words, gestures and actions tell you Responding to the messages and cues Focus ….and remember, stacking the deck is a process

13 Helping Caregivers Anticipate Change “Just before each big spurt in development there’s a period when the child falls apart, parents fall apart with them and it makes a vulnerable opportunity for a provider or a childcare person or anybody who is trying to interact with the parents to get into that system and explain that Regression is a powerful force for progress.” -- Brazelton, T.,

14 Family Routines and Rituals Naturally occurring family routines and meaningful rituals provide both predictable structure that guides behavior and an emotional climate that supports early development. Let’s make a list of family routines and rituals you’ve seen while working with your families How might these routines or rituals be helpful or affected during the reunion (Spagnola & Fiese, 2008)

15 Every family is unique and will write its own story We must always be mindful that, in addition to what the event brings to the family, it is what the family brings to the event. Credit: Department of Defense

16 Understanding the Diversity Within Military Service Understanding that there is no monolithic military service: Five major branches: Army Air Force Navy Marines Coast Guard

17 Understanding the Diversity Within Military Service (Continued) Commissioned and noncomissioned rank Various Guard and Reserve units Installations Bases, Post, Camps Units

18 Where Military Culture Influences Families Attitudes Beliefs Custom Traditions Clothing Food Language Achievements

19 Potential Reintegration/Reunion Stressors and Events that Can Impact Early Relationships in Military Families

20 Complications to Reintegration/Reunion Transitional or permanent stress Modifying family roles/function Temporary or permanent accommodation to injury or illness Injury or illness adjustment Military community jeopardized Changes must be integrated before growth Isolated from unit/friends (Cozza, 2010)

21 “Emotional problems such as depression, economic stress, and marital conflict can interfere with sensitive and responsive parenting, be disruptive of secure attachments and constitute a significant source of instability over time in attachment security.” -- Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000, p. 234.

22 Stress and Trauma Defined Stress: “…a response to actual or perceived threats in the context of uncertainty about our capacity to manage the threat.” -- Gunnar & Davis, 2008, p. 7-4 Traumatic event: “…an event involving actual or threatened death or serious injury or threat to the physical or psychological integrity of the child or another person.” - ZERO TO THREE, 2005, p. 15

23 Domains of Reactions to Stress Biological Emotional Cognitive Behavioral

24 Injury The parent is changed in some way or another  Temporary or permanent/acute change  Changes in functioning and/or appearance  Short- and/or long-term implications

25 TBI Verses PTSD TBI  Physical injury  Caused by external force  Destroys nerve cells and fibers and disrupts normal brain function  Concussion involved  10% chronic symptoms; evaluated for concurrent psych injuries  Emotional and behavioral outcomes PTSD  Psychological injury  Traumatic/chronic stress injury  Stress reactions that don’t go away on their own  From hardships, lack of sleep, chronic vigilance  Emotional and behavioral outcomes (Defense Centers of Excellence, 2010)

26 Overlap in TBI & PTSD Symptoms Irritability Shortness of temper Inability to sleep Distractibility Memory lapses Numbing (Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health, 2007)

27 Parent Perception How does the parent perceive this injury in relation to their sense of self? How does the parent perceive this injury in relation to their role as a parent? Department of Defense

28 The Child’s Perception How does the child perceive the injury? How did the child find out about the injury? What was he told about the injury? What kind of words were used to describe the injury? How does she experience the injury and what does it mean for her?

29 Visible Versus Invisible Injuries Are there purely physical wounds? Are there purely emotional wounds? Children able to adjust to visible but not behavioral– emotional

30 It’s in Our Nature “Very young children stir up powerful feelings in adults (the species is programmed that way).” (Fenichel, 1992, p 11)

31 How Our Feelings Impact Our Work It is normal for staff to have different feelings about the families with whom we have working relationships and we must pay attention to the difficult feelings and the times we “fall in love” with our clients. These feelings show up in us physically as well as in how we interact with families.

32 References Brazelton, T. B. (1992). Touchpoints; The essential reference. Reading, MA: Perseus Books. Brazelton, T. B. & Greenspan, S. I. (2000). The irreducible needs of children; What every child must have to grow, learn, and flourish. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing. Costa, G. (2007). Nurturing the Wounded Helper: Exploring Your Experiences in Caring for Infants, Children and Families Affected by Katrina. Presented at Save the Children Foundation, Washington, DC. Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE). (2010). A handbook for family & friends of service members before, during and after deployment. Alexandria, VA: Public Broadcasting Service and Vulcan Productions. Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health. (2007). An achievable vision: Report of the Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health. Falls Church, VA: Defense Health Board. Department of Defense Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide by the Members of the Armed Forces. (2010). The challenge and the promise: Strengthening the force, preventing suicide and saving lives. Executive summary. Washington, DC: Department of Defense. Eliot, L. (1999). What is going on in there? How the brain and mind develop in the first five years of life. New York: Bantam Books

33 References Parlakian, R. & Seibel, N. L. (2002). Building strong foundations: Practical guidance for Rice, K. F., & Groves, B. M. (2005). Hope and healing: A caregiver’s guide to helping Siegel, D. J. (1999). The developing mind; How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are. New York: The Guilford Press. Spagnola, M., & Friese, B. H. (2007). Family routines and rituals: A context for development in the lives of young children. Infants and Young Children, 20(4), 284—289. ZERO TO THREE. (2005). Diagnostic classification of mental health and developmental disorders of infancy and early childhood: Revised Edition (DC: 0-3R). Washington, DC: ZERO TO THREE.

34 Michael Rovaris, LCSW Ashford Park Drive Raleigh, NC (719)


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