WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 30, 2014) -- Strengthening the resilience of teenage children of Army parents is critical to the resilience of the family and the readiness of Soldier-parents, said Army experts.
Military teens face unique stresses, said Lt. Col. Stephen Austin, a chaplain with program development for the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, or CSF2, program.
Army life is difficult for teenagers, he said, with frequent moves, long separations from deployed parents, and the worry when a parent is away.
"But we also know teens, because of those challenges, have unique strengths," he said. "We really want to give them the tools where they can build on those strengths."
With that in mind and after hearing requests for resilience training for teens, the Army is expanding its training to include teenagers in military and civilian Army families. Previous resilience training has been for Soldiers, spouses, and Army civilians.
The Army is piloting Teen Resilience and Performance Training curriculum on three bases -- Fort Knox, Ky; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. A fourth base, Fort Riley, Kan., is about to start the program.
"Resilience is something that can be taught and the sooner you learn it, the better you are throughout your life in managing adversity," said Julie Broad, civilian lead for the teen curriculum.
The skills being taught in the teen program are the same ones that are taught in the resilience training for adults, but just modified to be relevant to the younger audience, said Broad.
"Within that translation, we're hoping that the Army family is sitting around a table and they're able to have the same language, a common language around resilience and performance," she said.
With a family unit speaking the same language on resilience, she said, members can empower one another to use those skills to strengthen the family unit.
The idea of the program, said Austin, is not to focus on problems but rather to build positive skills to strengthen teens and give them the tools to handle challenges when they do arise.
A strong, resilient family unit strengthens the Soldier and Army civilian, said Austin.
The resilience trainers focus on a host of skills in the courses, including how to put issues in perspective, problem solving, reducing anxiety, using constructive dialogue, controlling emotions, managing energy to respond effectively under pressure, turning around counterproductive thinking, and seeking out the positive in life, instead of focusing on the negative.
The training offers valuable life skills that can be applied and used throughout a person's life, said Broad. The curriculum for the program is expected to be available Army-wide in April, she said.
The Army is working with commanders and CSF2 training centers to determine the best roll-out, she said. How the course is delivered will be unique to each installation, she said. For example, training could include games or physical fitness activities, and while some installations might hold the training at schools on base, others might offer it in evening or weekend classes.
Austin noted that the Army would like to share the curriculum outside the Army, such as with public schools where military teens attend, in an effort to reach teens with varying connections to the Army.
The resilience training is truly a gift that is unique to the Army, said Broad.
"It's just not something that is out broadly," she said. "This is a way that the Army is really using the knowledge it has accrued to do good within the community and further strengthen the Army family."
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