Strong families plan for change

  • Published
  • By Brian P. Smith
  • TriWest Healthcare Alliance
Bumps, cuts and bruises are all part of any kid's life.

Dealing with deployments, multiple moves and school changes are all part of a military kid's life. As a parent, you strive for consistency and want safety and happiness. But what do you do when your family gets bumped, cut and bruised along the way?

Adapting is a big part of being a military family. Change happens. These changes can be moves, deployments or an ill or injured parent; even a death in the family. You might need help starting a conversation with your kids about the new situation. Maybe you need something to point you in the right direction or someone to help guide you down the path. Whether you are starting out on your own or feel like turning to behavioral health professionals for help, you're not alone. And remember, concentrating on your emotional health is just as important--if not more--than focusing on your physical health.

A good place to start is TriWest Healthcare Alliance's online behavioral health and parenting resource center ( You can find information, self-assessments and professional resources on a wide variety of family and relationship topics that you can explore at your own pace, 24/7, 365 days a year.

To get you started, here are three family-friendly tips from TriWest. Are you:

Modeling behavior?
Children watch their parents and siblings and "mirror" what they see; it's how they learn to walk, talk and play with others. It's also how they learn to act in different situations. When the stress starts, how do mom, dad, brother and sister behave?

Dr. Blake Chaffee Ph.D., TriWest Healthcare Alliance vice president of integrated health care services, emphasizes that parents should be aware of how they deal with stress. "Deployment periods are a time when parents are modeling self-care and coping strategies for their children," he says. "This is the time to give your children examples of positive behaviors."

Dealing with it?
You'll be adjusting to the new roles, schedules and relationships too. Dealing with all those changes can help strengthen the bonds within the family.

"It's helpful to continually remind children that change can help families become stronger, and to recognize and support your child's positive behaviors," Dr. Chaffee adds.

Getting it covered?
Behaviors that do not improve over time may need extra attention. You can start by talking to your child's primary care manager. As TRICARE beneficiaries, your children will be covered when working with a specialist. Your primary care manager may be able to recommend an appropriate professional.

For most outpatient behavioral health care, your child will not need a referral for the first eight visits each year. Your family has many options under TRICARE to get the type of help you need. You can find more information about the TRICARE behavioral health benefit at