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News > Press Releases > Press Release

Press Release

Release Date: April 22, 2020

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office



  • Misty Boyd, Ph.D.

An expert in children’s wellness advises parents to stay flexible, extremely patient and follow recommended guidelines to help children better cope during a time of crisis, such as the COVID19 pandemic.

Misty Boyd, Ph.D., is a young child wellness expert with the Chickasaw Nation Department of Health’s Hofanti Chokma (“to grow well”) program.

She says many people, regardless of age, are feeling anxious and unsettled because of a disruption of familiar routines and the fear of the unknown.

As Americans shelter in place to slow the spread of the virus, normal family schedules have been uprooted and replaced with children taking distance learning classes and many adults working from home, while also supervising their children’s education.

Adjusting to this new normal can be difficult.

“For everyone, kids and parents alike, it is a challenging time for all of us,” Dr. Boyd said.

“That’s not just because we are trying to settle into a new routine, but because settling into new routines and not knowing exactly what is going to happen next (leads to) feeling more anxious, which makes us all more stressed out.”

Children may feel out of sorts, she said, and patience and understanding are key to a calm household.

“Kids are going to need more attention. It’s important for kids, and parents, to know that if we are feeling more stressed out, it’s for good reason. It’s because we are coping with a really unusual situation. We haven’t been through this before, and don’t know how to do this, yet.

“My advice is just keep trying, and to be as patient as you can with yourself and each other,” Dr. Boyd said.

“When things happen and you get on each other’s nerves — because those things do happen— just know how to settle down and come back together, and start over.

“Try again. That is how we are going to learn to cope right now,” she said.

Maintaining Safety
Dr. Boyd recommends following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to stay healthy, including staying at home as much as possible to slow the spread of the virus.

“Don’t forget thorough hand washing, it’s important. The CDC has also recommended everyone older than 2 years wear a cloth mask when going out, still keeping six feet apart,” she said.

Online Resources
When needed, seek online resources such as the Chickasaw Nation’s Hofanti Chokma program.

The program is offering 20-minute online sessions, at no cost, each weekday in April to teach positive parenting tips from the PAX Tools program.

The tools are evidence-based and especially helpful during times of stress. A child psychologist and pediatric nurse answers questions about parenting challenges that could arise during this unprecedented time.

“The program has been focusing on parenting tools that are positive in nature, about building an environment that supports children and their development and making our relationships as positive as they can be,” Dr. Boyd said.

Originally offered in person, the program was modified to be available online, and tailored for the current climate.

“The first one went great. We talked about what tips work and what strategies to put in place; especially for parents trying to work from home and oversee school and care of children in the same time and space,” she said.

Additionally, PAX Tools workshops will be offered via Zoom 8:30-11:30 a.m., Thursday, April 30 and Friday, May 5; as well as 1-4 p.m., Monday, May 11.

The workshops are open to the public at no charge.

“We would love for anyone to participate, even if they are also taking care of their kids while on the Zoom with us,” Dr. Boyd said.

To register for the workshops, email Jennifer.Jesse@Chickasaw.net.

Avoid Information Overload
Information about the coronavirus pandemic and advice on how to cope can dominate the news. Dr. Boyd advises to be selective when searching for helpful tips.

“Don’t feel obliged to dig in deep and try all of those things,” said Dr. Boyd.

“Look around and see what makes sense for you; what makes you the healthiest, safest and able to carry on the best, and really focus on those things.”

She uses an example from her own home as she works from home and cares for her children.

“We try to have a flexible routine and do the same things throughout the day, but also recognize we have big feelings right now.

“There may be times where we just need to sit or talk, or do something that is relaxing, like going for a walk or drawing, to better cope with those feelings before we get back into the routine. We have changed our expectations.”