The Military Child Well-being Toolkit

The MCEC Military Child Well-being Toolkit has been created to provide accessible social-emotional supports and resources directly to parents, educators, school counselors, administrators, and other youth-serving professionals working with military-connected youth.

Physical Well-being, Stress Management, & Mental Health Resources

Well-being can be described as feeling good, functioning well, and viewing life positively. While there is no consensus around a single definition of well-being, there is general agreement that well-being includes the presence of:

  • Positive emotions and moods (e.g., contentment, happiness)
  • Awareness and acceptance of full range of emotions
  • Overall life satisfaction
  • Sense of purpose, fulfillment, and positive functioning
  • Positive relationships and perception of life
  • Sense of a sustainable condition

Well-being often includes the physical, social, emotional, psychological, and developmental aspects of life. In this toolkit document, you will find wellbeing divided into three categories: physical health, stress management, and mental health.

Exercise, healthy eating, sleeping the right number of hours, limiting media, washing hands, brushing teeth, good hygiene practices, and a little fresh air all play a role in the military child’s overall well-being. Students who practice these healthy lifestyle habits can enjoy benefits such as higher self-esteem, a better outlook on life, and increased academic attentiveness, motivation, and success. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also say:

Comprehensive school health and prevention education, community partnerships, and parental engagement and support will ensure a solid foundation for future health and well-being of our youth. In the next couple of pages, you will find guidelines and activities to use for the military child.

Stress is a normal reaction to everyday pressures. It can be short-term or chronic. Military-connected children and families experience unique stressors. Parents know their child best. When you begin to see changes in their mental health, it is important to address these as soon as possible. Begin with your primary care physician and work with your School Counselor, Military Family Life Counselor, School Nurse, or School Social Worker to find resources or get referrals to a behavioral health provider. Reach out to Military OneSource for non-medical counseling 24/7 help for assistance at 1-800-342-9647 or live chat 24/7: Military One Source Non-Medical Counseling

The National Military Family Association and Bloom Partner’s 2021 survey of military teens reports:

 Click here to see the statistics.  When a person deals with chronic stress, they may encounter these side effects:  

  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Anxiety or even depression
  • Excess sweating
  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss
  • Overeating
  • Foggy brain

The World Health Organization defines positive mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” WHO Health and Well-being

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Our mental health affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Our mental health will continue to change throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

It is important to know that people with serious mental health challenges can heal and recover with professional help. Often, people do not get the mental health services they need because they do not know where to start.

If you feel the need is urgent, Call or Text 988 for immediate help. You can also ask your primary care doctor, Military Family Life Counselor, school counselor, school nurse, or other health professionals to connect you to the right mental health services in your area. If you do not have a health professional who can assist you, use these resources to find help for yourself, your friends, your family, or your students.

Parents & Professionals
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Parent of Young Children
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School Leadership
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Brading, T. (2020, September 30). Holistic health added to Army Fitness doctrine. U.S. Army. 

Cozza, S. J., Knobloch, L. K., Gewirtz, A. H., DeVoe, E. R., Gorman, L. A., Flake, E. M., … & Lerner, R. M. (2018). Lessons learned and future   recommendations for conducting research with military children and families. In Hughes- Kirchubel, L., Wadsworth, S., Riggs, D. (eds.), A  battle plan for supporting military families (pp. 265-287). Springer, Cham. https://10.1007/978-3-319-68984-5   

Doran. (n.d.). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Management Review, 70(11), 35–36.

Drigas, A. S., & Papoutsi, C. (2018). A new layered model on emotional intelligence. Behavioral Sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 8(5), 45. 

Goleman D.P. (1995). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ for character, health and lifelong achievement. Bantam Books.  

Gribble, R., Mahar, A. L., Keeling, M., Sullivan, K., McKeown, S., Burchill, S., … & Castro, C. A. (2020). Are we family? A scoping review of how  military families are defined in mental health and substance use research. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, 6(2), 85-119. 

Hughes-Kirchubel, L., Wadsworth, S.M. (2018). Introduction to a battle plan for supporting military families. In Hughes- Kirchubel, L., Wadsworth, S., Riggs, D. (eds.), A battle plan for supporting military families (pp. 1-10). Springer, Cham.  

Klug, H. J. P., & Maier, G. W. (2015). Linking goal progress and subjective well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of Happiness Studies: An   Interdisciplinary Forum on Subjective Well-Being, 16(1), 37-65.  

Masten, A. S. (2018). Resilience theory and research on children and families: Past, present, and promise. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 10(1), 12-31. 

Masten, A. S. (2021). MULTISYSTEM RESILIENCE: PATHWAYS TO AN INTEGRATED FRAMEWORK. Research in Human Development, 18(3), 153-163.

Maybery, D. J., Goodyear, M. J., Reupert, A. E., & Harkness, M. K. (2013). Goal setting within family care planning: families with complex needs.  The Medical journal of Australia, 199(3), S37–S39. 

Mullet, N., Fuss, C., Lyddon, L., Mondloch, D., Neal, S., Nelson Goff, B. S., … & Ruhlmann, L. M. (2021). Finding our new normal: A 10-year   follow-up study with US Army veterans and their spouses. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 1-25. 

Office of the Surgeon General (OSG). (2021). Protecting youth mental health: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory. US Department of Health and  Human Services.  

Pexton, S., Farrants, J., & Yule, W. (2018). The impact of fathers’ military deployment on child adjustment. The support needs of primary school  children and their families separated during active military service: A pilot study. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 23(1), 110–124. 

Siegel, D. J., & Bryson, P. H. D. T. P. (2012). The whole-brain child. Random House.  

Sigelman, C. K., Friedman, S. L., & Kildon, J. (2019). Communication, context, and well-being among military couples. Military Behavioral Health,  7(4), 363-375. 

Sullivan, R. M., Cozza, S. J., & Dougherty, J. G. (2019). Children of military families. Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America,   28(3), 337–348.  

Theiss, J. A. (2018). Family communication and resilience. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 46(1), 10-13. 

Disclosure Statement: These tools are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Have a Question? Ask an MSC!

If you have a question about academic transition, education options, or how to best meet the needs of your military-connected child, connect with a Military Student Consultant. 

Our MSCs truly understand the challenges related to military life and they stand ready to serve.

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