The 7C’s of Resilience for Military Kids


When Soldiers serve the nation, their Families also serve. And like their parents, military kids also face some of the challenges of Army life such as Family separations during deployments and leaving friends behind during Permanent Change of Station moves.

To prepare your kids to thrive in both good times and in challenging times, you can reinforce these core elements of resilience:

(1) CONFIDENCE

Children with confidence find it easier to rebound from failure, seeing it as an opportunity for growth rather than a catastrophe. Frequent PCS moves can build confidence in young people as they learn to adjust to new settings and make new friends. However, some children may need a little extra support. To encourage confidence:

  • Notice their efforts and successes, but avoid unearned praise
  • Nurture and support their development of skills
  • Stand beside them as they navigate challenges

(2) COMPETENCE

Kids need to develop skills that allow them to trust their judgments, make responsible choices, and face difficult situations in many aspects of daily living. Frequent PCS moves may challenge the development of new skill sets. To increase competence:

  • Let your kids find solutions to problems, instead of telling them what to do
  • Give them genuine encouragement about existing strengths they have
  • Talk to your kids instead of lecturing at them

(3) CONNECTION

The more connections children have – with Family, friends, schools, and communities – the better. The connection you have with your children is the most protective force of their lives, yet it is the most directly affected by deployments and PCS. It takes intentional effort to maintain connection with our children. To strengthen connection:

  • Love your children for all of who they are, their strengths and flaws, not based on temporary behaviors or by what they might do
  • Create a safe emotional space so they can share their feelings instead of holding them back
  • Be present when you spend time together with your child; it's the quality rather than the quantity that counts

(4) CHARACTER

Young people with strong core values have the best sense of self and form the most secure and healthy relationships. Army kids have a head start as they are raised by parents driven by strong values and a commitment to serve the greater good. To nurture character:

  • Model integrity for your children: actions speak louder than words
  • Treat them with empathy today, so they treat others with fairness and kindness tomorrow
  • Teach kids the value of delayed gratification and that planning up front (like starting a savings account) produces better results in the end

(5) CONTRIBUTION

One of the best ways children learn they matter is by giving to or serving others. Military kids should know they serve as part of a Family committed to contributing to the nation’s well-being. To build a sense of contribution:

  • Help your kids to volunteer, even an hour a week, in their local community
  • Encourage them to do acts of goodwill for Family, friends, and neighbors
  • Teach them to also receive, so they know they can seek help without shame

(6) COPING

How we respond to stress is called coping. Children who learn to handle stress effectively are better prepared to overcome life’s challenges and make wise choices during tough times. To teach coping strategies:

  • Help your children express their feelings in a healthy way by writing, talking, laughing, praying, crying, and more
  • Demonstrate effective problem solving by approaching problems calmly and breaking large problems into smaller, more manageable ones
  • Teach them to maintain healthy bodies through proper nutrition, sleep, exercise, and relaxation

(7) CONTROL

How we parent and discipline affect our children’s sense of control. It is important that, even when separated by distance, all caregivers are on the same page and actively participating in discipline. To raise kids with self-control:

  • Help kids learn their actions lead to consequences. But they have control over their actions and can alter outcomes
  • Teach or guide your child when disciplining. Those who are told, “You’ll do what I say because I said so!” often have difficulty making their own decisions
  • Set clear boundaries to keep them safe, but be flexible to honor their growing independence and recognize their developing skills

Source: Adapted and reprinted with permission of Dr. Ken Ginsburg of the Center for Parent and Teen Communication.