The Wyoming Department of Family Services is reminding people that children and parents need additional support and understanding during times of increased stress.
In the wake of concerns over the coronavirus caused COVID-19, DFS says that the pandemic can impact many aspects of daily life.
“Increased stress causes people to focus more on the negative,” says Ed Heimer, field administrator and licensed clinical social worker with DFS. “If you assume the worst in a situation, you’re liable to provoke negative behavior from other people. This can potentially keep a negative behavior cycle going.”
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To combat a negative thought and behavior cycle, Heimer suggests switching off disturbing media and instead switching on relaxing and soothing music, taking a walk or looking for positive news.
Heimer says additional parenting tips include increasing communication with children, consistently reinforcing positive behaviors no matter how small they may seem, and creating a calm environment. “Even small, or incremental changes to the environment, can produce significant positive results,” he said.
DFS says that it’s important to monitor all children, especially adolescents, for signs of increased stress. Signs DFS says to look for can include irritability, changes in behavior and changes in eating and sleeping habits. To help alleviate the stress, according to Heimer, exercise if possible and make time for fun with children of all ages. Another suggestion by DFS is to encourage adolescents to talk or write about the situation and their stress.
“Adults have had time to develop coping mechanisms to stress and children rely on the adults in their lives to appropriately role model those skills” Heimer said. “Adults can play a key role in supporting and managing a child’s stress.”
The DFS statement adds that parents can help by modeling appropriate behavior, letting their children become problem solvers and combating negative thinking by reframing the negative into a positive. “Learning to frame things positively will help children develop resilience to stress,” Heimer said.
Currently, all DFS field offices remain open.
For help or support call a local DFS office. Please go to https://dfs.wyo.gov/about/contact-us /to find the local DFS contact number or nearest office.
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.