Toddler and deployment — The Bump
Military Families

Toddler and deployment

We are three months into Dh's deployment and our almost three year old is having a really rough time. I do not know how to help her.I know part of it is her age but her acting out continues to escalate. Anyone else going/gone through this and what can I do to make it better. I

Re: Toddler and deployment

  • Have you tried connecting with other mothers with similar age children?  I know my base offers deployed spouses activties once a month...

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  • Talk about daddy.  A lot.  Print out and laminate pictures for her to carry around.  Get one of those daddy dolls.  I printed a picture out on printable fabric and made them little pillows out of it, and they sleep with them every night.  We talk about how daddy loves them and wants to be here, but he has to work and help other people.  We Skype with him when he gets the chance to, and they LOVE that.  When he came home on R&R he recorded some of those books from Hallmark, and we read them almost every day now.   

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  • Like the PP said, talk about him as much as possible. I was surprised when my DH left that DD (who was about 15 months at the time) was actually really sad from early on; I didn't think she'd notice right away because he's always coming and going for training and because she can't understand time. She has a daddy doll and I have pictures of him in her bedroom and play area where I wouldn't normally have put them; he recorded a few videos singing and reading to her before he left and we play these regularly (I know your DH is already away, but even with limited comm access, I bet he could at least record some short videos on his camera and mail them on a disk if you sent him a few blank cds). Good luck! (And if you haven't already, order the free Sesame Street DVD from
  • I'm so sorry that you are going through this. I don't have any advice, my DH is deploying at the end of April and it's our first one since DH was born.
  • imageDoylesa:
    I'm so sorry that you are going through this. I don't have any advice, my DH is deploying at the end of April and it's our first one since DH was born.

    Ooops, since DS was born.

  • You've already gotten some great suggestions.

    We also do a calendar and I let them take turns marking the days off. I try to keep it positive, as in ONLY 48 more days to go! We mail him a LOT of artwork ha (If Daddy was here, we would go to the park today- type pictures). We make silly videos for him (also let's him really see how big they are and what they are doing now). We also stock-pile stuff for Daddy when he gets home, they will save ANYTHING to add to the box. They have saved everything from cookie ingredients (non-perishables, obviously) to bake when he gets home to shirts they don't want to wear until he's home, his favorite chapstick... all kinds of stuff. It just gives them something to look forward to. They also got involved in a project with him for a local school. They really felt like they were helping him do his job (and it helped them understand that he was there to help people) by collecting supplies, coats, etc. for the children of the school.

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  • I recomend you don't countdown to homecoming.  There is nothing more devastating to a little person than thinking they only have 20 days left and then learning they really have 50 days left. 

    I do recomend you make a calendar with little things for her to look forward to.  Mark days when certain movies come out at the theater, when grandma comes to visit, little sarah's birthday party.  Things like that.  Let her mark off the calendar so she can see that there are fun things to look forward to.  It helps move things along and instead of one big amount of time, things are broken up into smaller time frames. 

    Put pictures of her with her daddy all over the house.  Talk about him.  My 4 yr old has a little scrap book of her favorite pics of her daddy.  She keeps it on her bed when he's gone and loves to look at it. 

    We also do a "Daddy Wall" in our dining room.  The younger two (ages 3 and 4) put pictures they have colored, craft projects from church and anything else they want to save for Daddy on the wall.  Our older two (10 and 12) put essays and other school papers on the wall along with report cards and little notes they write to him.

    We also send a boxes, a small one once a week and a big one once a month.  The kids draw pics for those.  I also let them pic out treats and snacks to include in the boxes.  It helps them feel like they are helping their daddy.

    My biggest piece of advice is to get out.  Get out and play with other kids.  Go do fun things.  Keep her busy.  It will help keep her mind off missing her daddy. 

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  • Skype if you can. My 3 year old is sadly adept with this technology, and he doesn't seem to find it any different with being in the room with [whomever he is missing]. He'll go get toys and artwork to show them, play games, read books, whatever.
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