Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Children of military personnel-Psychology, Children of the mentally ill-Psychology, Children of parents with disabilities-Psychology, Post-traumatic stress disorder-Patients-Family relationships, Brain-Wounds and injuries-Patients-Family relationships, Empathy in children, Military, Parental injury, Children, Empathy, PTSD, TBI, Traumatic brain injury


This qualitative study explores how young children (age 5-11) experience and develop empathy about parents who are suffering from physical and psychological injuries. This study was based on a Sesame Workshop film which depicts five families with a parent returning from war with either a visible (arm or leg amputation) or an invisible (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury) wound. Children of military families (n= 28 children) and children of civilian families (n= 42 children) comprised the study sample. Focus groups based on a semi-structured interview guide were conducted after the viewing of the film. Findings indicated children's difficulty in understanding the abstract nature of emotions associated with invisible injuries as well as their thirst for knowledge, even when this is accompanied by fear or anxiety about the subject matter. Suggestions for family educational materials are provided.




iii, 62 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 53-57)