University of Illinois Extension

Military Concerns Still Real for Many Children

Aaron Ebata, Family Life Specialist

According to media reports, the war in Iraq appears to be winding down. But for many children, especially those with a parent in the military, the concerns are still very real.

The way in which children react to crisis depends on lots of things, including their age, their own family situation, and their personality. Obviously, children who have a parent directly involved will be concerned, but so could children who don't have personal ties to the war.

Monitor your grandchildren's behavior and provide support as needed. Any change in behavior may be a sign of stress. Some children may cling more or have trouble with separation. Others might have a hard time going to bed or staying asleep. Toddlers may show signs such as increased thumb-sucking, exaggerated fears, more temper tantrums, or bedwetting.In older children and teens, you may see signs like more irritability, a lack of appetite, or trouble completing schoolwork.

Regardless of how much concern young children show, it is best to limit TV time. Frequent media reports and updates on the war can be overwhelming. Older children, around age 10 and up, may want to watch and talk about the news. These children may also benefit from "doing something" that makes them feel like they are making a difference. You can support them by helping with specific projects at home, in school, or as part of an organized group.