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PHOTO CAPTION:  U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy Lenzo

October 28, 2013
By Dr. Pam Murphy, National Center for Telehealth and Technology

Dr. Pam Murphy is a licensed psychologist at National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), and the Defense Department program lead for “Parenting for Service Members and Veterans.” This new online resource from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs provides military parents tools and exercises to strengthen their parenting skills and help them reconnect with their children. Many of the techniques offered are specifically tailored to address the unique challenges of military life.

“Maria has gotten into the habit of whining. She’ll whine about wanting to watch TV longer, not having anyone to play with, and being denied candy at the grocery store. When Dad is away, Mom usually gives in — it’s just too much trouble to say no.”

Sound familiar? Being a parent and having kids has many rewards, but some days you may wonder! Add in family separations, finances, household chores, moves, deployments, new schools and trying to fulfill some personal goals, and the quest to be a “good parent” may at times feel overwhelming.

While the demands of parenting are the same for everyone, a new, Web-based course, “Parenting for Service Members and Veterans,” looks at parenting through the eyes of military and veteran parents. While the free course covers common challenges, such as how to improve communication or find a discipline that works, it also addresses returning from deployment and the challenges of reconnecting with your child, or parenting with posttraumatic stress disorder or a physical injury. Interactive activities keep the content interesting, videos of military families make it relatable, and opportunities to apply the strategies to your own family make it personal.

Let’s go back to Maria. Certainly many serious factors can cause a child to whine: getting sick, feeling insecure or needing a nap. But usually kids whine to get you to change your mind about a decision you already made. Grown-ups do it too; it’s called nagging. “Parenting for Service Members and Veterans” introduces you to the ignoring technique and shows you how to use it with help from Maria’s mom. You learn the technique steps and the “gotchas,” and prepare for some expected consequences, like full-blown temper tantrums. (Often when you start ignoring a behavior, you’ll get more of that behavior, until your child learns that you really do mean what you say.)

Six modules take you through many real-life examples like this one with Maria, and offer strategies and ideas to help you handle typical children’s concerns and misbehaviors. You can start the course with any module:

 

Whether you’re an old hand at parenting or just getting started, check out militaryparenting.org for a helping hand. The goal is the same for us all — happy, healthy families.

Be sure to visit the site’s Facebook page for additional resources on parenting.