Staying Healthy During COVID-19

Service member with face mask

Current as of July 12, 2021

It’s normal to cut corners when engaging in everyday activities, especially when you’re comfortable with the task. But to avoid putting yourself and your family at risk during coronavirus disease 2019, examine your habits to make sure you’re not cutting corners on your health.

Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to your habits during this time is to avoid spreading germs.

Keep calm with COVID Coach

This app can help you cope with pandemic-related stress. It’s free, secure and recommended by the Department of Defense.

For specific guidance on everything from vaccinations and personal hygiene to keeping your home clean and avoiding contact with others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a great resource.

But maintaining good health during the COVID-19 pandemic means getting vaccinated, following guidance for covering your face in public and considering paying extra attention to your eating habits, exercise and personal schedule.

With that in mind, here are some things to consider:

Get vaccinated against COVID-19

The CDC has recommended everyone ages 12 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s why:

  • Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community. The vaccine works with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you’re exposed. If you do get COVID-19, the vaccine will help you from getting seriously ill.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe. Each of the available vaccines for COVID-19 were developed using science that has been around for decades. The vaccines went through all the required stages of clinical trials and have been shown to be safe and effective. Additionally, COVID-19 vaccines have received and continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.
  • The vaccine is a key tool to help stop the pandemic. When enough people are vaccinated, it becomes harder for COVID-19 to spread from person to person. This protects the entire population, including those who cannot be vaccinated, like newborns and those who are allergic to the vaccine.
  • The vaccine is a safe way to build immunity without getting sick. People who recover after being sick with COVID-19 have natural immunity to the disease. However, it’s not clear how long that protection lasts. The CDC recommends the vaccine even for those who have been sick with COVID-19.
  • You can resume many activities once fully vaccinated. It takes your body two weeks after being vaccinated to develop the antibodies that fight COVID-19. Once you are fully vaccinated, you can go out in public without a mask or having to social distance except where required by law or regulations.

Visit the TRICARE website to schedule a vaccination appointment or use the Defense Health Agency’s Appointing Portal to book your appointment at a DOD COVID-19 vaccination site.

Wear cloth face coverings if you are not vaccinated

The Department of Defense requires unvaccinated personnel to wear face coverings and to social distance while on the installation and during official duties outside the home. All DOD personnel should continue to comply with CDC guidance regarding areas where masks should be worn, including within airports.

These practices can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may unknowingly have it from transmitting it to others. The CDC recommends masks for unvaccinated adults and children ages 2 and up that:

  • Are non-medical and disposable
  • Are made with breathable or tightly-woven fabric
  • Have two or three layers
  • Include a filter pocket

The DOD does not authorize the use of novelty masks, masks with ventilation valves or face shields.

Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing your face covering. Wash your hands as soon as you finish.

Be good to your body

Keep yourself healthy with the following activities:

  • Get moving. Reach out to a Military OneSource health and wellness coach to develop an exercise plan just for you with the equipment you have at home. You can make an appointment for a phone, online or video session by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.
  • Keep your bedtime the same. It’s tempting to binge watch your favorite shows late into the night if you are not currently reporting to work or if you are working from home, but resist that urge. Sleep helps restore and relax your mind and body. A good sleep routine keeps you healthy.
  • Eat regular, nutritious meals with your family. Teach your children how to stay healthy by choosing healthy meals. Show them how to plan a meal, cook it, set the table and clean up after. Family meals are a great time to bond and get to know each other better, not to mention staying healthy.
  • Order medications online. Order your medications online to avoid contact with people who may have the virus. Here’s how to get home delivery for medications under TRICARE.

Be kind to your mind

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Here are a few ways to stay informed with updates on safety while keeping current events in perspective.

  • Engage your mind in your favorite activities. Schedule time for yourself to participate in the activities you enjoy the most. Whatever your thing is — reading a book, painting, playing an instrument or streaming your favorite music, dancing, writing, singing, etc. — do it, enjoy it and you’ll feel better for it.
  • Avoid information overload. Watching or reading too much negative news can increase anxiety. Instead, limit the time you take in negative news and use the extra time to fill yourself with something positive like writing down all you are grateful for or using these other tips for emotional wellness.
  • Practice self-care. Plug into tools to help you de-stress and take care of yourself. The Defense Health Agency recommends several: Chill Drills is a collection of free simple audio exercises to help you de-stress while Breathe2Relax trains you on deep-breathing techniques. They are among several you’ll find on the Military OneSource Recommended Wellness Apps page. The Military Meditation Coach podcast provides relaxation exercises and tips for well-being.
  • Help others. Helping others will bring you happiness. Consider surprising a neighbor by doing their yard work or leaving groceries on their porch (while keeping your social distance).
  • Ask for help if you or your family need it.  Military OneSource confidential, non-medical counselors are here for you. Check out Address That Stress to learn how non-medical counseling works and all the ways it can help you. If you or a family member are having suicidal thoughts, call the Military Crisis line at 800-273-8255, press 1; text to 838255; or start a confidential chat. If you find yourself in a dangerous, abusive situation, contact command, the Family Advocacy Program or law enforcement. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911. Except in select circumstances, you have the option of making either a restricted or unrestricted report of domestic abuse. Both options allow access to victim advocacy services, which include personal help and support.
  • Seek reliable information. Look for sites that provide factual and frequently-updated information such as the CDC.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

More Parenting Resources for Managing at Home During COVID-19

A woman sits with her children on a sofa.

Current as of July 12, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic continues to be a challenge. Many parents are still working from home, children are on modified school schedules, and the continued disruptions and vigilance can be exhausting.

Military OneSource is committed to helping you find the resources you need to stay the course. Take advantage of the expanded hourly child care service. Add some new activities to your toolkit. Try some apps for self-care. And reach out for support if you need it. Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7/365 to help you and your family find the resources you need to meet the current challenges

Expanded hourly child care service

To support the growing needs of military families, the Department of Defense has expanded child care options. Through Military OneSource, military families now have free access to a national database of more than a million caregivers so they can find hourly, flexible and on-demand child care. The nationally recognized subscription service lets you:

  • Search for potential caregivers based on your own needs and criteria
  • Check references, review background checks and conduct interviews
  • Choose, hire and pay providers on your terms

The service is easy to access and available online for your convenience. For more information, and to register, visit the Military OneSource Expanded Hourly Child Care Options web page.

CDC resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide updated advice on a variety of current parenting topics including:

  • Daily Activities and Going Out – includes advice for dining out at restaurants, playing sports, hosting and attending gatherings, and more
  • Travel – offers information on air, train, bus and car travel, links to daily state case numbers and recommendations for destinations around the world
  • COVID-19 Parental Resources Kit – provides specific tips for promoting social, emotional and mental health of children in age groups 0-5, 6-12, 13-17 and 18-24 years

Activities resources

For preschool age children:

For youth and teens:

Resilience resources

Military families know that life challenges can inspire us to be our best selves. This time at home lets us practice stress-management skills and try new tools. The following resources can help build resilience:

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community, visit, follow Military OneSource’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram platforms, and continue to check the Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for updates.

Family Fitness With Young Children

Family fitness

As a parent of young children, your time may not always feel like your own. Despite your best efforts, it may seem like there’s always another mess to clean up. Finding time to exercise … well, let’s just say it might not make it to the top of your to-do list.

But here’s the thing: You don’t have to choose between spending time with your children and physical fitness. Regardless of your current fitness level, there are ways to include your family in your active lifestyle, which ultimately sets a positive, healthy example for your kids.

Try these ideas for exercising if you have young children.

Fitness with a baby

  • Put your baby in a stroller and take a brisk walk. You’ll get some exercise, your child will enjoy a change of scenery and you’ll both get some fresh air.
  • Invest in a jogging stroller. Once your child is old enough, a jogging stroller is a great way to pick up the pace and improve your cardiovascular fitness.
  • Check out upcoming walks, fun runs or races. See if your community or MWR program offers a stroller-friendly option.
  • Hike with a baby carrier. There are numerous options on the market that allow you to safely strap your child to your chest or back so you can enjoy a hike.
  • Look for a parent and baby fitness class. Check with your installation’s fitness center to see if it offers classes designed for parents with young children.

Fitness with a toddler or young child

  • Take a trip to the park. Visit the playground on your installation or find a park in your surrounding community where you and your child can run, climb, swing and jump.
  • Go for a bike ride. Attach a child’s seat to your bike and get ready for a good time. Make sure you have the proper safety equipment (such as a helmet for each of you) before you set out.
  • Rent sports equipment. Check with MWR on your installation to see what equipment is available if you aren’t yet sure of your child’s interests. This is a way to introduce your child to a wide range of sporting options without spending a lot.
  • Go bowling. Not only does bowling provide a great way to be active together, but your installation’s bowling center may even offer a family discount.
  • Go for a swim. Spend an afternoon splashing around with your child and teaching them swimming basics, such as floating and treading water. You can even check with MWR about swimming lessons.
  • Have a dance party. Fitness doesn’t have to be a formal activity to be good for your body. Turn on some music and have a family dance party at home.

Remember, every little bit of activity counts — whether it’s doing jumping jacks during television commercial breaks or playing a game of tag with your children in the backyard. Use whatever time and equipment you have at your disposal to prioritize your fitness while still spending time with your family. Not only will your family’s health improve, but your children will learn healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Check with MWR on your installation for a schedule of swimming lessons, or reach out to Health and Wellness Coaching for other ideas for family fitness activities.

Navigating Early Intervention Services

Smiling mother and child

Every child grows and learns at their own individual pace, but researchers agree that the first three years of a child’s life are the most critical for learning. If you believe your child might have a developmental delay, providing early intervention services can help them learn and develop to their full potential. As a military family, there are services to help support you.

The Exceptional Family Member Program works with other community and military agencies to make sure you have the EIS support you and your infant or toddler need. Local school districts or health departments often provide these early intervention services.

Visit EFMP & Me.

Find tips and information on early intervention services and so much more.

EIS programs are called different names in different areas, but are often referred to as Part C because that is the section of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that pertains to early intervention. Find a list of state Part C coordinators and programs by searching for your state in the Military OneSource Early Intervention Directory (Birth to 3).

Identifying the need for services

 Sometimes it’s hard to identify possible delays but reviewing milestone checklists and watching the short course on Childhood Development Milestones and Identifying Delays may be helpful. Consider downloading the CDC’s Milestone Tracker App.

Make a list of your concerns and questions and talk to your child’s pediatrician. Often, physicians will give you a referral for an early intervention evaluation and point you in the right direction. However, you don’t need to have a doctor’s referral to request an evaluation.

Finding services

Services under the early intervention program are available from birth through 36 months of age, in every state, and are typically provided in home and community settings. Your early intervention service coordinator oversees the services delivered by providers while your child is in early intervention.

CONUS families: The EFMP Family Support provider on your installation is a great point of contact to learn more about early intervention services in your location. The Early Intervention Directory (Birth to 3) is also a good resource, because the early intervention process is usually determined by where you live. Choose your state of residence (or where you are moving) to understand where to find services.

  • If your family lives on an installation with a Department of Defense Education Activity school, you must access early intervention screening and services through the Educational and Developmental Intervention Service at the installation military treatment facility.
  • If your installation does not have a DoDEA school, or you live off the installation, you must access Early Intervention Services for your child through local community services.

OCONUS families: Talk to the EFMP Family Support provider at your location to find out how to start the evaluation process or continue/transfer services. Use the Directory of Early Intervention, Special Education and Related Services in OCONUS Communities to find out which communities offer early intervention services and the types of services they provide.

Evaluation for early intervention

To learn more about the evaluation process, contact the or reach out to your state program. Discuss your concerns and request to have your child evaluated for eligibility for early intervention services. The goal of the evaluation, also called initial assessment or eligibility assessment, is to see if your child can use help with life skills such as talking, movement, learning, etc.

Evaluation steps typically include the following:

  • You will have a service coordinator/case manager assigned to answer your questions and oversee the process.
  • You must sign a written consent and agree to testing. You will then work out evaluation details with the service coordinator.
  • Evaluation location will typically be your home or another familiar location.
  • A team of two or more will conduct the evaluation: Developmental specialist, physical therapist, speech therapist, social worker/psychologist – all experienced with young children.
  • Evaluators may ask about child’s medical history. They could observe your child’s interactions with other family members, give standard tests to learn about skills and ask your child to complete play-based tasks.

Eligibility for services

After the evaluation, you’ll meet with the team to review the results and determine eligibility for services. Make sure you get all your questions answered and share if you have concerns or disagree with their findings.

Eligible: The team will write a plan that outlines the services and support your child will receive. Early intervention usually lasts until your child’s third birthday when your child may move to special education services under IDEA if needed.

Not eligible: If your child is not found eligible, and you disagree, you have the right to appeal the decision. You may also choose to research organizations with licensed professionals who can help you develop a plan and work with you and your child to overcome challenges.

Early intervention services

Early intervention focuses on improving skills in the following areas:

  • Physical (reaching, crawling, walking, drawing)
  • Cognitive (thinking, learning, problem solving)
  • Communication skills (talking, listening, understanding)
  • Self-help skills (eating, dressing)
  • Social or emotional skills (playing, interacting with others)

Services might include but are not limited to: Speech and language therapy, physical or occupational therapy, psychological services, hearing or vision services, social work services, transportation, assistive technology. Your service coordinator will support you in explaining the specific services your child needs.

Take advantage of all the resources and services available to you and your family through EFMP. Get started with the Early Intervention Fact Sheet and check out the Office of Special Needs EFMP & Me podcast series for information on enrollment, education, PCS, legal and long-term and financial planning and caregiving. And be sure to visit EFMP & Me, your 24/7 guide to everything EFMP.

How to Keep Family Stress Away While Everyone Is Home

Family of three doing crafts together

Current as of June 16, 2021

You’ve got experience adapting to unexpected changes in your military life. And that “roll-with-it” attitude will guide you as you help your family learn ways to reduce stress and build resiliency while spending more time together during the 2019 coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Localities may have lifted some restrictions, but quarantines could be reinstated to stop the spread of the virus and its variants. Here are some ways to deal with the pressures of sheltering in place and adjusting to changing health guidelines.

Keep calm with COVID Coach

This app can help you cope with pandemic-related stress. It’s free, secure and recommended by the Department of Defense.

Need More Parenting Resources During COVID-19?

You may be looking for new ideas for managing children at home during the pandemic. Try this updated list of extensive parenting resources.

Stay calm

The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 can increase the stress on your family. Focus on what you can control by employing some of the following strategies:

  • Lead by example. Your children are watching how you handle the quarantine, and they will pick up on your stress. Do your best to model healthy ways to handle stress by using coping skills when you feel tension building up.
  • Limit exposure to news sources. Reduce your anxiety by setting daily limits on the time you spend watching or reading the news. Start with 10 minutes a day and adjust depending on what works for you. Follow these stress relief tips throughout the day and share them with your family.
  • Keep your children informed. Ask your children what they know about the coronavirus and what they are concerned about. Talk with your children about COVID-19 and provide age-appropriate, reliable information. Help clear up any misunderstandings they may have and stay focused on the positive.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques. Find a quiet place at home, get comfortable and try this Chill Drill designed for service members and families.
  • Stick to a schedule. Structure can bring you a sense of calm and certainty during this uncertain time. If you are working from home, here are some Tips for Teleworking During the Outbreak of COVID-19.

Stay connected

Family, friends and your military community can provide support and strength at times like this. Consider these ideas to stay connected while keeping your distance.

  • Remain in touch with family and friends. Schedule time to connect with family and friends through virtual coffee dates, dinner parties or casual catch-up sessions using video chat apps or phone calls. Bring back the art of handwritten letters and include your children, perhaps showing off their artwork. You’ll brighten peoples’ day with mail from your family.
  • Flex your muscles together. Exercise is a huge stress reducer. Engage the family in a game of tag or by taking turns creating balance challenges and scoring it like a game of H-O-R-S-E. Create an obstacle course in the house or yard and time each other as you run, walk, crab walk, walk backward or skip through the course. Be creative. Go on a “Simon Says” walk around the house or yard and take turns being the leader.
  • Use your military community resources. If finances are causing you stress, review your options on Military OneSource. There are different relief organizations that may be able to address your specific situation.
  • Read together. Couch cuddles while reading to your children can build great memories. You can also use reading as quiet time – something you all do from separate rooms to give everyone space to relax. Use your MWR Digital Library for video books that read to children or e-books for older youth and adults.
  • Make dinner a group effort. Connect with your children by having them help with planning and cooking dinner as well as setting and clearing the table and washing and drying the dishes. Doing these activities together teaches them life skills and, more importantly, creates a space for them to talk about whatever is on their minds. They may talk more when doing tasks beside you than talking face-to-face.

Military families tend to be resilient. Keep reaching toward your family and military community for support and know that Military OneSource is always here to serve and support you.

Stay current

Stay up to date on the latest information regarding COVID-19. Select legitimate news sources that provide facts and not escalating drama. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

It is natural for all relationships to feel tested during an emergency or crisis. If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 at 800-799-7233 or

How to Teach Your Military Child About Healthy Boundaries

Child kisses parent on cheek

The concept of personal boundaries is one of the most important concepts you can teach your children so they can grow up to have happy, healthy relationships. Plus, learning about healthy personal boundaries as a young child lays the foundation for understanding consent as a teen.

Not sure what’s “normal” sexual behaviors for growing children?

Learn more about common – and healthy – behaviors in children, so you know what to expect and how to help them.

Boundaries can refer to a number of physical and emotional guidelines you establish for yourself. Physical boundaries can include the physical space between you and another person, the comfort you feel with physical touch, and the way you share and respect another person’s belongings. Emotional boundaries include unspoken rules of how you treat or speak to someone and how you expect to be treated in return. Emotional boundaries also allow us to identify and separate our needs, wants, opinions and emotions from others. Boundaries are healthy when we have identified our limits, we are confident with our choices and opinions, and we are able to stand up for ourselves when necessary if what is acceptable is threatened.

How do you lay the foundation for boundaries and consent with young children? First, you have to teach them about healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries are not too rigid (where we refuse to listen and grow), nor are they too loose (when we can’t say no to others or allow others to define what is right for us even if it feels wrong to us). Everyone has the right to set limits with others about what they do and don’t want to happen. For young children, boundaries and consent begin with asking for permission and understanding they, too, can expect to be asked for consent in return.

The best way for military families to show children healthy boundaries is to model it themselves – both with your children and with other adults. Here’s a list of some common ways you can help your children learn to build this resilient skill in everyday family life.

  • Respect the spoken “yes” and “no.” Clear communication is the foundation to teaching healthy boundaries and asking for permission. Help them practice saying yes or no in certain situations, rather than relying on body language alone. That way, children won’t just assume a behavior that makes them uncomfortable is okay or that it’s “rude” to refuse unwanted contact.
  • Ask for permission before offering physical affection. Touch should not be an automatic right for anyone – family, friend or stranger. Like adults, children can decide who they’d like to hug, high-five or hold their hand without repercussion. For example, a child may choose not to high-five a stranger’s hand at the grocery store, even if an accompanying adult thinks it’s polite to do so.
  • Offer small choices for decisions which impact them. By offering your military children the chance to make their own decisions within reason, you’ll show respect for their personal right to decide for themselves. Questions like “It’s time to get dressed – would you like the red or blue shirt?” or “Do you want oatmeal or eggs for breakfast?” are easy ways to do this for young children without overwhelming them.
  • Reinforce the idea that rules and healthy boundaries go both ways. Boundaries that your military child may enforce for themselves can also exist for others, including fellow playmates. For example, Tommy has the right to tell Mary to stop pushing him because that’s crossing his personal boundaries. Mary can tell Tommy to stop pulling her ponytail as well, because she has boundaries, too. As an adult, you can help children to understand that boundaries apply to everyone, and different people may have different types of boundaries.
  • Talk about “gut feelings.” You’ll need to explain that sometimes people get a weird feeling that something isn’t right, even if they’re not sure why. They should trust that inner voice, because that’s an instinct we all have to keep us safe. That gut feeling might help them avoid a suspiciously friendly stranger, for example.

By modeling consent and respect for personal boundaries, you can help your military child stay safe as they actively seek secure relationships. And remember – Military OneSource is always able to boost your MilParent power by connecting you to military programs and support designed especially for military parents, like the New Parent Support Program, the Military and Family Life Counseling Program and Thrive.

Resources for Military Parents As COVID-19 Continues

Grade school aged child focused on school work

Current as of June 1, 2021

Parents are facing a variety of new and ongoing challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Virus conditions keep changing, and work and school schedules vary. It’s easy to feel stressed about making the best choices for your family and bogged down by decision fatigue.

Military OneSource is committed to helping families thrive during these challenging times. Whether you are looking for flexible child care, virtual activities for children, tips for taking care of yourself and your family or official updates from government agencies, we’ve got you covered. Check out the following resources.

My MilLife Guide

New text program sends “GuideTips” to help you beat stress and meet goals.

Parenting resources:

Well-being resources:

Official COVID-19 update resources:

For Department of Defense COVID-19 updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19:

If you have questions about COVID-19 issues or any other aspect of military life, Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7/365. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS dialing options or schedule a live chat.

Understanding of COVID-19 continues to change, so check our Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page often.

Want to find the phone number for your installation’s housing office or Military and Family Support Center? Find those and more on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, an online information directory for military installations worldwide.

For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms.

Tips for Disciplining Your Child

Mother feeding baby with toddler nearby

Misbehavior and boundary testing are natural parts of growing up. However, dealing with it as a parent requires lots of deep breathing, patience and strategies for discipline. By using positive discipline, you can keep your children safe, help them develop valuable skills for life and receive the satisfaction that comes with keeping your cool.

Positive discipline techniques

The following approaches will help your child stay safe and develop self-esteem and self-control:

  • Natural consequences — This is when the behavior or choice causes its own punishment. For instance, if a child refuses to wear a jacket, he or she will be cold. If you allow children to experience the unpleasantness of their choices without the use of “I told you so,” chances are they won’t put up a fight the next time you ask them to wear a coat or put their lunch in their backpack when you ask them to. Where parents experience difficulties with the effects of natural consequences is when the repercussions are too far in the future to be impactful—like leaving a bike out in the rain when the resulting rust won’t be apparent for several months or even years—or when the natural consequences don’t faze children—like having a messy room when they refuse to pick up their toys. A workaround for this is to use logical consequences in these situations.
  • Logical consequences — These consequences involve more parent involvement to be sure the discipline and the misbehavior have some relation to each other. These consequences often use an “if/then” or “when you” statement. For example, if your child breaks the family rule of riding a bicycle without a helmet, then a logical consequence would be for your child to lose bicycle privileges for a reasonable period of time. You can also use logical consequences for those situations when your child doesn’t care about the natural consequences. For example: “When you have finished folding your laundry, then you may play a computer game.” Logical consequences should be:
    • Related (not random) – If your child makes a mess, the logical consequence is to clean it up, not lose TV privileges. The exception for this technique is when you have framed your initial request within the “when you” context.
    • Respectful (not using shame or humiliation to try to change behavior) – Using “I told you so” usually results in the child focusing on the blame and shame instead of processing the lesson to be learned. Instead, have a conversation about how the behavior and consequence are related and why it’s important for their safety or the wellbeing of other family members that they follow certain rules.
    • Reasonable (age-appropriate) – For example, if cleaning up a mess would be impossible for young children to do alone, assist them in cleaning up rather than do it for them or expect them to complete the task alone. In addition, after unsafe or inappropriate choices are made, discuss what other options were possible for their behavior.
  • Positive timeouts — When used correctly, timeouts give your child time to calm down and regroup. Timeouts should not be used as punishment but as a chance for children to correct their behavior and learn from their mistakes. Tell your child to take some time to calm down. Provide them with a private space, a special toy or a manipulative, soft pillow or blanket to help them cool down. Positive timeouts work well for parents, too. When everyone is ready to talk about what happened, you can sit down with your child to discuss the situation and behavior.

Stages of positive discipline

Age birth to 2 years

Try to keep your child happy by creating a safe environment to play inside your home and by establishing routines based on your child’s needs. Use the following positive discipline techniques:

  • Redirect unwanted behavior. Infants and toddlers are too young to understand timeouts and should never be left alone. Instead, draw your child’s attention to a positive activity.
  • Ignore misbehavior when it’s safe to do so.
  • Praise your child to encourage learning, independence and positive self-esteem.
  • Set a good example. Children learn more by watching adults than in any other way.
  • Give your child choices that will avoid power struggles. For example, “Would you like milk or water?” A little decision-making power can give your child a lot of confidence.
  • Try giving yourself a timeout if you think you are about to lose your patience. Step away from the situation and try to readdress it when you are back in full control.
  • Parent with the end game in mind. Look at long-term solutions that will eventually help kids make their own decisions. Show your child respect and understand that criticizing, discouraging, blaming and shaming can cause more hurt than help at any age.

2 to 6 years old

Children this age learn by exploring and asking questions. They’re developing language and social skills, including sharing. They may want to try simple tasks on their own and will probably learn by trying new things and taking risks. Help your preschooler by adding the following age-appropriate discipline techniques to those above:

  • Use positive timeouts when your child needs to cool off. Timeouts should be no longer than one minute for each year of your child’s life. Do not give attention, but give your child comfort items to help him or her calm down.
  • Focus on what your child should do instead of what not to do.
  • Praise good behavior rather than punish misbehavior. Rewards are fine but not when they become more important to the child than the good behavior.
  • Establish rules, set clear limits and follow through if rules are broken. Natural and logical consequences are appropriate for breaking your rules.
  • Discourage tattling. Offer to listen while children talk through their problems and use their own problem-solving skills to work things out instead of having you solve problems for them. Help them develop their own skills in working through dilemmas or disagreements.

6 to 12 years old

Children in this age range have more self-control than when they were younger, and they can follow rules, accept responsibility and make decisions. As your child gets older and develops new skills, the discipline you use should also change. Build on the positive discipline techniques already in place with the following:

  • Adjust timeouts if you find they’re becoming less effective.
  • Answer “why” questions in simple terms. Stay calm, even if you have heard “why” approximately 5,000 times that day! Children are curious, and we want to encourage their learning.
  • Involve your child in the problem-solving process. If your children constantly argue in the back seat of the car, hold a family meeting to discuss the problem. Ask your children to offer solutions. Discuss why the arguing is a distraction to the driver and a safety issue.
  • Make requests that are effective and positive. How you say something is just as important as what you say. Nagging, criticizing and threatening can be discouraging to your child. Save yourself from repeating instructions by asking children to repeat back what you’ve just told them. When you do address their behavior, keep it short or they may learn to tune you out.
  • Use more actions and fewer words. Keep explanations brief and be sure to follow through. If you tell your children that you’ll pull over if they keep arguing in the back seat, do it. Stay parked in a safe place until they stop bickering. No words are needed.

Disciplining children demands patience and stamina. In between deep breaths, remind yourself that your children’s behavior issues are valuable opportunities to teach them the skills they’ll need to become successful adults. Using natural and logical consequences can help children:

  • Learn from their mistakes and problem solve
  • Value themselves as individuals
  • Understand that you love and trust them

Military OneSource is here to support military parents. Access Thrive, a free online parenting education program created by the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State. Thrive is interactive, fun and promotes positive parenting, stress management and healthy lifestyle practices. Choose one of four modules organized by age group. You can also utilize Military OneSource’s non-medical counseling services, which includes help with parenting challenges.

If you’ve tried these positive discipline strategies for several weeks without improvement, your child’s doctor or the Family Advocacy Program on your installation may be able to suggest more specific ways to guide your child.

Top Military OneSource Parenting Resources

A father holds his son

Military parents have busy lives as they juggle careers, children, house demands, meal planning and carpools, along with the added disruption of PCS and deployment. Military OneSource understands your life is complicated and is here to help. We do the homework to consolidate the best and latest parenting resources, information and advice so that you can spend your downtime with your family, not searching for answers to your needs. Your Military Family Readiness System, through the Military OneSource website, has some of the best parenting resources available to you.

New baby? Child with special needs? Bored teenager? There are resources for these situations and many others. Check out the top resources for busy parents on the Military OneSource website.

Resources for everyday parenting:

  • New Parent Support Program — New and expecting parents can build a network of support with the New Parent Support Program. Manage those first few years with access to trained staff who can answer parenting questions, provide home visits or even set you up with supervised playgroups and parenting classes.
  • Safe sleep environments for your infant — Learn how to teach your child good sleeping habits by setting a bedtime routine and making your infant’s sleeping environment safe.
  • Exceptional Family Member Program — Don’t go it alone. If you have a child with special needs, check out the Exceptional Family Member Program page on Military OneSource. Read a collection of articles with specific assistance and resources for military family members with special needs.
  • Military child care programs — Searching for child care that’s high quality and affordable? This article explains how to locate quality, affordable child care in your community, both on and off the installation.
  • Military OneSource expanded hourly child care options — Service members and families now have free access to a national database of more than a million caregivers. Find hourly, flexible and on-demand child care that’s right for your needs.
  • Department of Defense child and youth programs — Explore a wide range of Department of Defense child and youth programs which can help your child make friends, stay active and develop new skills.
  • Military OneSource Parenting and Children page — Visit this page to find great information on adoption, parenting skills and child development stages, as well as tips for dealing with grief and loss, divorce, bullies, routines and discipline.
  • Thrive online parenting-education program — Questions about parenting? We all have them. That’s why the Department of Defense partnered with the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State to develop a free online parenting-education program. Find out how Thrive can help you raise healthy, resilient children from birth to 18.
  • Morale, Welfare and Recreation — Need some fresh and fun ideas for family activities or your next family trip? Connect with your MWR program. From fitness and sports to tickets and travel, MWR has something for everyone. Visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to locate your local MWR and get active and have fun with your family.
  • Best Kept Secrets: Joint Services Campgrounds and Facilities — Looking to get away? Morale, Welfare and Recreation joint services campgrounds and facilities across the United States offer service members and their families a variety of accommodations and amenities at great rates without sacrificing luxury or location. Don’t delay – start planning your next family adventure now.

Resources for challenging times:

Whatever your situation or parenting stage you’re facing, let Military OneSource help you connect to the parenting support you need. Call 800-342-9647 or set up a live chat today. OCONUS/international? View calling options.