Resources: Organizations that Support Military Youth

PsychArmor’s New Financial Wellness Courses: Learning to be financially responsible is an invaluable skill, and especially beneficial when practiced earlier in life. Check out these new courses offered through PsychArmor on Financial Wellness for military teens:
Money Talks for Military Youth (ages 6 to 12):
Click HERE
Money Talks for Military Teens, Part 1 (ages 12 to 18):
Click HERE
Money Talks for Military Teens, Part 2 (ages 12 to 18):
Click HERE
For a full menu of courses offered through PyschArmor, please visit: https://psycharmor.org/courses/

Take Steps to Prevent Cyberbullying

Name calling and spreading rumors are the most common forms of online harassment experienced by U.S. teens, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. A majority of teens who took the survey, 59%, reported that they experienced cyberbullying. National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month is a good time for parents, teens, and teachers to take steps to prevent cyberbullying.  There are many things that can be done now to reduce the risk of cyberbullying:

  • Parents can review the apps and sites most frequently used by teens and determine which ones their children are using, and the risks involved.
  • Learn more about cyberbullying tactics to understand the different ways that children cyberbully.
  • Parents can also role model and teach their children good digital citizenship skills. Digital citizenship is appropriate, responsible behavior when online or using technology, including digital safety and digital etiquette. For instance, online interactions should follow the same social guidelines as face to face interactions.
  • When parents and teens work together to establish rules about online behavior, gaming, and device use, teens are more likely to adhere to them.

Teachers can help prevent cyberbullying by including some social-emotional learning activities in the classroom that foster moral engagement and positive peer relationships.

Resources for Supporting Children through Stressful Events

CYB-MFLCs – Thank you all for your on-going commitment to creating a more nurturing world for families and children – one class, workshop, presentation, discussion or interaction at a time.

NEW RESOURCES! Kindness is one of the most significant contributors to a positive school climate. Download, link to, and share the new Kindness Works! infographic.*

Having special health needs can add to the challenges children and young people face as they learn to navigate social situations in school and in life. Children with special healthcare needs are at a greater risk for being targeted for bullying by their peers. Schools can implement strategies to address student’s special needs that foster peer relationships and help prevent bullying, creating positive outcomes for all students. *

*these resources provided by stopbullying.gov.

In response to the increased number of tragic events such as mass shootings at public venues, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has developed resources to help families and communities. These resources include tip sheets on:

Available from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University:
Funerals and Memorials: a Part of Recovery
http://www.cstsonline.org/resources/resource-master-list/funerals-and-memorials-a-part-of-recovery
Leadership Communication: Anticipating and Responding to Stressful Events
http://www.cstsonline.org/assets/media/documents/CSTS_funerals_memorials.pdf

Preventing Bullying through Science, Policy, and Practice: two new resources available from StopBullying.org:

  1. On-line toolkit – includes content from the report for different audiences, with printable PDFs: https://www.nap.edu/html/23482/toolkit/
  2. PSA-style video – aimed at teachers and others who work with children and youth: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23482/preventing-bullying-through-science-policy-and-practice and on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/VDy-IWfC4fQ

Sesame Street for Military Families Website Encourages Routines and Self-Expression

The Defense Department’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) and Sesame Workshop debuted new content on the Sesame Street for Military Families website. With the help of Sesame Street Muppets™ Elmo and Rosita, the website provides strategies for military families to help children express emotions. Parents learn tips for setting up comforting routines and preschool children find fun coping tactics with the characters they love.

Military families face constant challenges such as deployments, moves to new homes and adjustments after homecomings. The new Self-Expression and Routines topics focus on everyday things that families can do to create a caring, safe environment where children can learn and practice their resilience skills.

Dr. Cindy Alexander, a T2 psychologist, expressed excitement about the new resources for military families.

“The new Self-Expression content provides a fun, interactive way for parents to help children develop an emotional vocabulary and learn to express and manage their feelings in positive ways,” said Alexander. “Also, because we know that young children thrive when their environment is structured and predictable, the new Routines section will help parents find ways to maintain at least a measure of consistency—even when everything is in transition.”

The Self-Expression section includes videos of favorite Sesame friends showing their emotions through singing, moving, talking, laughing and hugging to demonstrate ways young children can manage feelings that come up in their day-to-day lives. Feeling Faces, an interactive activity, teaches young children how to recognize facial expressions and learn to name emotions.

Parents can explore the Routines section for tools to help alleviate the anxiety and stress children experience during changes in their lives like moving or transitioning to civilian life. Resources include Muppet videos, downloadable handouts and parenting information. Children benefit when parents learn the importance of establishing fun daily routines such as reading a bedtime story, sharing a family meal and saying a morning goodbye.

“Military families have taught us how to manage difficult situations with strength, and we know that military life is more than its challenges,” said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, SVP of U.S. Social Impact at Sesame Workshop. “We are honored to continue supporting our nation’s military families and hope that these resources will guide families in their learning moments and build resilience among our youngest fans.”

The website design allows military parents with young children to bring their furry friends along wherever they go—including on smartphones and tablets. A free shortcut app to the Sesame Street for Military Families website is available for Android and iOS devices for download from the iTunes Store, Google Play and Amazon for Kindle Fire.

Reference: National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) Public Affairs, August 09, 2016

Military Youth Can Use Tech to Improve Mental Health Literacy, Coping Skills

Frequent transitions, parental separations and the cumulative effects of multiple deployments can negatively impact military youth, research shows. Military youth are generally resilient, but many are coping with increased levels of anxiety, stress, depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation and behavioral problems.

“We all have to learn how to teach military youth coping skills, how to recognize signs of psychological distress and how to get help,” psychologist Kelly Blasko of the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) said in a webinar sponsored by the Defense Health Agency. Blasko led focus groups whose feedback helped T2 create a website for military kids called Military Kids Connect (MKC).

Today, the MKC website has received more than a quarter million hits since its launch in January 2012. The website addresses challenges of transitions, deployment and reintegration with home and family.

Since children use interactive technology in their daily lives, it makes sense to reach them through this means of communication, Blasko said.

Teen and tween avatars in camouflage gear share tips on coping with deployments, siblings or moving. Teen-created videos offer introductions to new military bases. Among the specific offerings are “Crossroads,” instructional vignettes that help kids deal with dilemmas and make better choices, and “What’s On Your Mind,” a message board where teens can talk with each other about issues they may face.

The site isn’t just for kids, though, Blasko said.

“As parents, providers and educators, we need to attend to these youth early on, so that we can prevent further psychological distress,” she said. “There are different tracks that offer teens, children, educators and parents tools and lesson plans.”

The site is important because mental disorders often begin in adolescence.

“We have the opportunity to intervene so that they get the help that they need,” Blasko said.

Reference: Posted by Carol Roos, DCoE Public Affairs on February 12, 2016; dcoe.mil/blog