Whenever there is disruption at home we know it can affect a child’s well being in school. It would be easy to assume that service children are used to the changes, they may be; but it doesn’t lessen the impact. It is also important to note the length of time a parent is away and location is often unimportant to a child, they are away from home.
Some behaviours or emotions that a child may display might be:
Their mind may often wander to thoughts of the parent they haven’t seen or spoken to in a while, they may be worrying about safety and wellbeing of the absent parent.
They may not be displaying signs of anxiety but if it’s internal then their usual coping mechanisms may be affected.
Changes in behaviour
Linked to the above and also as a result of changes in routine as family members may be helping out, longer time spent in child care etc.
Lateness or forgotten items
If school can be a little lenient at first, it can be the help needed while the family adjust to having one parent. It may be that spelling books are forgotten, PE kits etc. Of course there are many one parent families; the difficulty is in having to make the change. The situation may also arise whereby the deployed parent has managed to make contact at home just in the middle of the morning routine, completely disrupting the routine, but a necessary and welcome disruption (until the homework gets left behind!) Tiredness Children may be struggling to sleep or be suffering with scary dreams about their fears, resulting in an unsettled night.
Over protective parenting
In some cases a child’s anxiety may be the manifestation of a parent’s anxiety. The two may be feeding one another. In which case can the school signpost the parent to some more support?
Be aware that there is an emotional cycle of separation for both children and parents;
Stage 1 – Anticipation of departure
Stage 3 – Emotional
Stage 6 – Return adjustment