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Why are my children acting out now that I’m back from the service?

Children naturally tend to “act out” or test boundaries whenever there’s a change in family status. They want to understand what the new situation is, and where they stand within it. Older children may be angry with you for being away from them. Very young children may even be frightened of you at first, as if you were a stranger. All of these are normal responses, given the special circumstances that come with a return from deployment.

For your part, you may react to family life in a more “military” way than you did before. You may feel over-protective, or have a tendency to be controlling, or overly concerned with discipline. Remember that while these inclinations are normal and useful in combat, they are not very helpful at home. Discuss rules and behavior expectations with your family and let them share in decisions. Talk with your spouse and make sure the two of you present a united front to your children.

It takes time to reconnect with your family, and for your children to feel close to you again. Don’t rush the process. Spend some time on activities that you can enjoy doing together, which will give you opportunities to talk and get to know one another again. Notice the positive changes in your family, too, and comment on them. Let your children know you are proud of how they have grown and matured.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.