Today's column is brought to you by the letters "M" and "F," for military families.
The folks at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind "Sesame Street," have created resources specifically to help military families raise children. The challenges facing military families are distinctive, from being apart during deployments to moving frequently to coping with injury or even the death of a loved one.
The resources include the Big Moving Adventure, a new app designed to make moving fun by allowing children to create a Muppet friend to help them through relocation; a resource kit devoted to helping parents and caregivers aid children in dealing with a parent's death, and a Little Children, Big Challenges kit that helps children and their families overcome everyday challenges and become more resilient.
The average military kid moves six to nine times between kindergarten and high school, and the app, designed for kids 2 to 5 years old, helps them through the process, from hearing the news to saying goodbye to making new friends.
"Talk, Listen, Connect" materials include help for grieving families, including noticing signs of distress in a child's behavior, such as nightmares and scary thoughts, difficulties with sleeping or poor concentration, and regressing behaviors such as clinginess and thumb sucking. "Caring cards" with such words as "talk," "remember" and "cry" can, too, be used to find strength as a family. Find tool kits at www.sesamestreet.org/parents.
The free resources are available through downloading the "Sesame Street" for Military Families resource app on iOS, Android and Kindle Fire. The Feel Electric! app on emotions and the Big Moving Adventure app are both also on iOS, Android and Kindle Fire. The resources also are rotated on Facebook.com/SesameStreet ForMilitaryFamilies and can be found at www.familiesnearand far.org/resources.
Families can also contact Military One Source at www.militaryonesource.mil.
The resources are available in English and Spanish.