There is no doubt about it; military kids are amazing. New house, new school, new neighborhood, new friends and a regularly-long-distance parent nearly every...single...year. Despite these challenges, they still manage to not only hold it together, but to thrive. They excel through the adversity and somehow manage to develop wisdom, maturity and perspective through it all. So, how do military parents keep their offspring moving in the right direction and avoiding all the speed bumps life has to offer? With a bit of well-timed empowering acts of appreciation!

Make a silly certificate. Nobody does certificates of appreciation better than the military. Let your creativity run wild. The funnier the better.

Help them redo their room. Honestly the best part about moving every 18 to 36 months is changing the look of your personal space. Out with the old (garage sale) and in with the new (with the money you made at the garage sale) and you’re not only showing appreciation you're teaching responsible financial management.

Accentuate the positive. Getting that “I’M SO DONE!” feeling happens to everyone. It helps to have a parent that’s able to shine a light on the bright side of things while kids are learning how to emotionally do it for themselves.

Go on special outings. There’s a reason so many families save up for a special vacation or apply to attend a family camp after deployment. It's part reward and part bonding time, and everybody has earned it!

Build your child an I Love Me Wall. Gather together evidence of all their accomplishments and hang them all in their room.

Cultivate your friendship. Learn about your child’s hobbies and “play” together as often as you can.

Spend time together. More than one Military Kid I talked with said that the very best present their parent ever gave them was simply their time and attention

Find the right fit. School, extracurricular activities, sports teams, clubs and summer camps can be either drudgery or a reward depending on the fit. Help your child shine and then brag about them publicly!

Make it an adventure. Are you doing a DIY move across country or are you going on a multi-state road trip hitting every Vintage Americana Roadside Attraction along the way? Whatever the case, take time to make your trip more fun.

Know their Love Language. Ultimately, showing appreciation to a child for their contributions to the family comes down to knowing their Love Language; physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service.
If you’re not sure, take a quiz at 5lovelanguages.com/profile/children/rs.•

Lisa Jansen-Rees, MS, ACSW, is a local freelance writer who frequently covers military issues for Red River Family Magazine. She has served military families for more than 20 years.