Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 282–293 | Cite as

Infants and Young Children in Military Families: A Conceptual Model for Intervention

Article

Abstract

Infants and young children of parents in the military deserve special attention because the first years of life are pivotal in establishing trusting attachment relationships, which are based on the developmental expectation that parents will be reliably available and protective both physically and emotionally. For young children in military families, the stresses of extended absences of mothers and/or fathers as the result of deployment abroad, recurrent separations and reunions resulting from repeated deployments, or parents struggling with the emotional sequelae of their war experiences, and the traumatic impact of parental injury and death can strain and derail the normative expectation of parental availability and protectiveness. This article describes the key features of mental health in infancy and early childhood, the developmentally expectable early anxieties that all children experience in the first years of life across cultures and circumstances, and the ways in which these normative anxieties are exacerbated by the specific circumstances of military families. The article also describes interventions that may be helpful in supporting military families and their children with the specific challenges they face.

Keywords

Infants and young children Military families Early anxieties and response to parental deployment Responses to parental injury and death 

References

  1. Barker, L. H., & Berry, K. (2009). Developmental issues impacting military families with young children during single and multiple deployments. Military Medicine, 174, 1033–1040.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Blaisure, K. R., Saathoff-Wells, T., Pereira, A., Wadsworth, S. M., & Dombro, A. L. (2012). Serving military families in the 21st century. East Sussex: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Bowlby, J. (1969/1982). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1: Attachment (rev. ed.). New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  4. Bowlby, J. (1980). Loss: Sadness and depression. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  5. Bowlby, J. (1988). On knowing what you are not supposed to know and feeling what you are not supposed to feel. In J. Bowlby (Ed.), A secure base: Parent–child attachments and healthy human development (pp. 99–118). New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  6. Boyce, W. T., Frank, E., Jensen, P. S., Kessler, R. C., Nelson, C. A., & Steinberg, L. (1998). Social context in developmental psychopathology: Recommendations for future research from the MacArthur Network on Psychopathology and Development. Development and Psychopathology, 10(2), 143–164.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brymer, M., Jacobs, A., Layne, C., Pynoos, R., Ruzek, J., & Steinberg, A., et al. (2006). Psychological first aid (PFA): Field operations guide (2nd ed.). Available at www.nctsn.org and www.ncptsd.va.gov.
  8. Burns, R. (2012). Army suicides double in July from June’s total. Retrieved from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/16/army-suicides-double-july-junes-total/.
  9. Chartrand, M. M., Frank, D. A., White, L. F., & Shope, T. R. (2008). Effect of parents’ wartime deployment on the behavior of young children in military families. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 162(11), 1009–1014.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chu, A. T., & Lieberman, A. F. (2010). Clinical implications of traumatic stress from birth to age five. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 6(1), 469–494.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cichetti, D., & Lynch, M. (1993). Toward an ecological/transactional model of community violence and child maltreatment: Consequences for children’s development. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 56(1), 96–118.Google Scholar
  12. Cozza, S. J., Chun, R. S., & Polo, J. A. (2005). Military families and children during operation Iraqi freedom. Psychiatric Quarterly, 76, 371–378.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cozza, S. J., & Feerick, M. M. (2011). The impact of parental combat injury on young military children. In J. Osofsky (Ed.), Clinical work with traumatized young children (pp. 139–154). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cozza, S. J., & Guimond, J. M. (2011). Working with combat-injured families through the recovery trajectory. In S. MacDermid Wadsworth & D. Riggs (Eds.), Risk and resilience in U.S. military families (pp. 259–277). New York: Springer Science.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cozza, S. J., Guimond, J. M., McKibben, J. B. A., Chun, R. S., Arata-Maiers, T. L., Schneider, B., et al. (2010). Combat-injured service members and their families: The relationship of child distress and spouse-perceived family distress and disruption. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23, 112–115.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Cozza, S. J., & Lieberman, A. F. (2007). The young military child: Our modern Telemachus. Zero to Three, 27(6), 27–33.Google Scholar
  17. Crowell, J. A., & Waters, E. (1990). Separation anxiety. In M. Lewis & S. M. Miller (Eds.), Handbook of developmental psychopathology: Perspectives in developmental psychology (pp. 209–218). New York, NY: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cummings, M., & Davies, P. T. (2002). Effects of marital discord on children: Recent advances and emerging themes in process-oriented research. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43, 31–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Davies, P. T., Cummings, E. M., & Winter, M. A. (2004). Pathways between profiles of family functioning, child security in the interparental subsystem, and child psychological problems. Developmental and Psychopathology, 16, 525–550.Google Scholar
  20. Feldman, R., & Vengrober, A. (2011). Posttraumatic stress disorder in infants and young children exposed to war-related trauma. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 50(7), 645–658.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Freud, S. (1926/1959). Inhibitions, symptoms and anxiety. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 4, pp. 87–156). London: Hogarth Press.Google Scholar
  22. Furman, E. (1974). A child’s parent dies: Studies in childhood bereavement. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Gibbs, D. A., Martin, S. L., Kupper, L. L., & Johnson, R. E. (2007). Child maltreatment in enlisted soldiers’ families during combat-related deployments. Journal of the American Medical Association, 298(5), 8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gopnik, A., Meltzoff, A. N., & Kuhl, P. K. (1999). The scientist in the crib: What early learning tells us about the mind. New York, NY: William Morrow & Company.Google Scholar
  25. Gorman, G. H., Eide, M., & Hisle-Gorman, E. (2010). Wartime military deployment and increased pediatric mental and behavioral health complaints. Pediatrics, 126, 1058–1066.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gunnar, M. R., & Cheatham, C. L. (2003). Brain and behavior interfaces: Stress and the developing brain. Infant Mental Health Journal, 24, 195–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hoge, C. W., Terhakopian, A., Castro, C. A., Messer, S. C., & Engel, C. C. (2007). Association of posttraumatic stress disorder with somatic symptoms, health care visits, and absenteeism among Iraq war veterans. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(1), 150–153.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kagan, J. (1984). The nature of the child. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  29. Laor, N., Wolmer, L., & Cohen, D. (2001). Mothers’ functioning and children’s symptoms 5 years after a SCUD missile attack. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158, 1020–1026.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lester, P. (2012). Best practices: Supporting children by supporting their families. In K. R. Blaisure, T. Saathoff-Wells, A. Pereira, S. Wadsworth, & A. Dombro (Eds.), Serving military families in the 21st century (p. 70). East Sussex: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Lester, P., Mogil, C., Saltzman, W., Woodward, K., Nash, W., Leskin, G., et al. (2011). Families overcoming under stress: Implementing family-centered prevention for military families facing wartime deployment and combat operational stress. Military Families, 176, 19–25.Google Scholar
  32. Lieberman, A. F., Compton, N. C., Van Horn, P., & Ghosh Ippen, C. (2003). Losing a parent to death in the early years: Guidelines for the treatment of traumatic bereavement in infancy and early childhood. Washington, DC: Zero to Three Press.Google Scholar
  33. Lieberman, A. F., & Van Horn, P. (2008). Psychotherapy with infants and young children: Repairing the effects of stress and trauma on early development. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  34. Lieberman, A. F., Van Horn, P., & Ozer, C. (2005). Preschooler witnesses of marital violence: Predictors and mediators of child behavior problems. Development and Psychopathology, 17, 385–396.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Linares, L. O., Heeren, T., Bronfman, E., Zuckerman, B., Augustyn, M., & Tronick, E. (2001). A mediational model for the impact of exposure to community violence on early child behavior problems. Child Development, 72, 639–652.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McEwen, B. S., & Stellar, E. (1993). Stress and the individual mechanisms leading to disease. Archives of Internal Medicine, 153, 2093–2101.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Melhem, N. M., Moritz, G., Walker, M., Shear, M. K., & Brent, D. (2007). Phenomenology and correlates of complicated grief in children and adolescents. American Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 46(4), 493–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Osofsky, J. D. (2011). Clinical work with traumatized young children. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  39. Piaget, J. (1959). The language and thought of the child. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  40. Pynoos, R. S., Steinberg, A. M., & Piacentini, J. C. (1999). A developmental psychopathology model of childhood traumatic stress and intersections with anxiety disorders. Biological Psychiatry, 46, 1542–1554.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rentz, E. D., Marshall, S. W., Loomis, D., Casteel, C., Martin, S. L., & Gibbs, D. A. (2007). Effect of deployment on the occurrence of child maltreatment in military and nonmilitary families. American Journal of Epidemiology, 165(10), 1199–1206.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Repacholi, B., & Gopnik, A. (1997). Early reasoning about desires: Evidence from 14- and 18-month-olds. Developmental Psychology, 33, 12–21.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rifkin-Graboi, A., Borelli, J. L., & Bosquet Enlow, M. (2009). Neurobiology of stress in infancy. In C. Zeanah (Ed.), Handbook of infant mental health (3rd ed., pp. 59–79). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  44. Robertson, J., & Bowlby, J. (1952). Responses of young children to separation from their mothers. Courrier du Centre International de l’Enfance, 2, 131–142.Google Scholar
  45. Sameroff, A. J., & Fiese, B. H. (2000). Transactional regulation: The developmental ecology of early intervention. In J. P. Shonkoff & S. J. Meisels (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood intervention (2nd ed., pp. 134–159). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Sayers, S. L., Farrow, V. A., Ross, J., & Oslin, D. W. (2009). Family problems among recently returned military veterans referred for mental health evaluation. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 70, 163–170.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Scheeringa, M. S., & Zeanah, C. H. (1995). Symptom expression and trauma variables in children under 48 months of age. Infant Mental Health Journal, 16(4), 259–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schell, T. L., & Marshall, G. N. (2008). Survey of individuals previously deployed for OIF/OIF. In T. Tanielian & I. H. Jaycox (Eds.), Invisible wounds of war: Psychological and cognitive injuries, their consequences, and services to assist recovery (pp. 87–115). Retrieved from www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND-MG720.pdf.
  49. Sroufe, A., Egeland, B., Carlson, E. A., & Collins, W. A. (2005). The development of the person: The Minnesota study of risk and adaptation from birth to adulthood. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  50. Stern, D. N. (1985). The interpersonal world of the infant: A view from psycho-analysis and developmental psychology. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  51. The New York Time. (2013). Baffling rise in suicides plagues U.S. military. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/5/16.
  52. Thompson, R. (2008). The psychologist in the baby. Journal of Zero to Three, 28(5), 5–12. Google Scholar
  53. Williams, D. S., & Fraga, L. (2011). Coming together around military families. In J. D. Osofsky (Ed.), Clinical work with traumatized young children (pp. 172–199). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  54. Williams, D. S., & Mulrooney, K. (2012). Research and resilience: Creating a research agenda for supporting military families with young children. Journal of Zero to Three, 32(March), 46–56.Google Scholar
  55. Wolfenstein, M. (1966). How is mourning possible. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 21, 93–123.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. (2001). Definition of infant mental health. Washington, DC: Zero to Three Infant Mental Health Steering Committee.Google Scholar
  57. Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. (2005). Diagnostic classification of mental health and developmental disorders of infancy and early childhood (DC:0-3R) (rev. ed.). Washington, DC: Zero to Three Press.Google Scholar
  58. Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. (2012). Research and resilience: Recognizing the need to know more. Washington, DC: Zero to Three Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.San FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations