Officials with Wyoming’s Department of Family Services are urging state residents to remember that children and parents need additional support and understanding during times of increased stress such as the current COVID-19 crisis.
Ed Heimer, who’s field administrator and licensed social worker with DFS, said increased stress causes people to focus more on the negative. To combat a negative thought and behavior cycle, he suggests switching off disturbing media and, instead, switch on relaxing and soothing music. He said people can also take walks or look for positive news.
He said parents also should increase communication with their children, consistently reinforce positive behaviors no matter how small they may seem, and create a calm environment.
Other experts say all children, especially adolescents, should be monitored for signs of increased stress. Those signs can include irritability, changes in behavior and changes in eating and sleeping habits.
Heimer said exercise can help alleviate the stress, and parents should make time for fun with children of all ages. He said parents can also encourage adolescents to talk or write about the situation and their stress.
He added that adults can play a key role in supporting and managing a child’s stress by modeling appropriate behavior, letting their children become problem solvers and combating negative thinking by reframing the negative into a positive.
Currently, all DFS field offices remain open, and people can call a local office for help or support. A local DFS contact number or the location of the nearest office can be found online at http://dfs.wyo.gov/about/contact-us/.