How to talk to children about masks after the end of Mecklenburg’s term

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Students go to their classes on the first day of school on August 25, 2021 in Charlotte.

mrodriguez@charlotteobserver.com

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In schools NC masks are removed

Two years after the pandemic, the government of the Northern Kingdom is now softening the mandate of the mask. But not everyone can feel ready, and some feel relieved.


The effects of masks on children have been widely discussed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some argued that the masks had little effect on stopping the spread of COVID-19, while others said they were needed to keep the virus at bay.

With a mandate to mask in district of Mecklenburg ended and Charlotte-Mecklenburg School“, which is scheduled to be canceled on March 7, families now have to decide whether to give up the mask or continue the mask.

After nearly two years of camouflage, disinfection, and social distancing, parents may find it difficult to talk to their children about why what they have become accustomed to is no longer the standard.

Mental health experts say there are ways to approach the conversation to convince children of their safety, and the steps to take if they face bullying from peers.

Were the masks physically or psychologically harmful to the children?

Although myths about masks – such as obstructing breathing or increasing carbon dioxide inhalation – have spread on social media, these theories have been over time debunked by medical researchers.

Laura Armstrong, an associate professor of psychological sciences at UNC Charlotte, explained that there is no evidence that masks are psychologically harmful to children.

“Understandably, parents and professionals may be concerned about how wearing a mask can affect children’s mental health, their social and emotional skills, and even speech and language development,” Armstrong Observer said. “That’s why researchers look at these issues in different ways.”

Although some studies have shown that masks can muffle sound, there is no evidence that they interfere with children learning a language, Armstrong said.

Although children find it harder to recognize the emotions of others by wearing a mask, research shows that there is no evidence that camouflage prevents children from developing social or emotional skills.

“While we are thinking about research, we need to remember that many of these studies are conducted in very controlled settings,” she said. “But in real life, when we talk to another person and interpret his emotions, we use a few cues. When we communicate, we use facial expressions, tone of voice, hand gestures and body movements, and children do that too. ”

What are the long-term consequences of disguising children?

Although research into the effects of masks on children is ongoing, Armstrong said, their long-term effects are likely to be positive.

According to health experts, masks have played an important role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. It also made personal schooling and childcare possible during the pandemic, Armstrong noted.

“The kids are very adaptable,” she said. “With the support of responsive and caring adults, children can and often adapt well to a variety of circumstances.”

Armstrong suggested that the increased rates of anxiety and depression in children during the pandemic could be attributed to distance learning – a time when children were isolated from their peers.

“The weight of the evidence actually shows that camouflage policies could have benefited rather than harmed children’s mental health,” Armstrong said.

When the mandates end, how to talk about masks

Speaking to children about masks after the end of the mandate, Armstrong said it was important to allow them to share their feelings and that it could lead to less stress around the pandemic.

“It’s normal for parents to worry that when they talk to their children about a problem like camouflage or a pandemic, it could worsen their children or put unnecessary pressure on them,” Armstrong said. “But in fact the opposite is true. When parents touch on these potentially complex topics, it can really help reduce the worries and anxieties of children. ”

Armstrong offered the following tips on how parents can approach their children about masks so that they support and encourage:

  • Start the conversation by asking the child what he knows or has heard about masks to determine the starting point for the conversation. This will correct any misinformation and encourage the child to ask questions that you will be able to answer.

  • Test your child’s emotions and help your child manage them. Parents typically use phrases like “don’t worry,” but this can lead to children not sharing their emotions. It is important to recognize the child’s emotions and let him know that the feelings are okay.

  • Limit media exposure. Children often see and hear what their parents watch and listen to, and disagreements over mask politics can upset them.

What if my child really wants to wear a mask?

Roberta Wilson, Clinical Mental Health Consultant Grace Christian Counseling in Charlotte stated that families have the right to choose what is best for them to wear in a mask.

“Kids don’t have to feel peer pressure to wear a mask or not wear a mask,” Wilson said. “It’s a very individual decision.”

What if my child is bullied for wearing or not wearing a mask?

Wilson, who is also a former teacher, said parents should talk to their children about what is happening and the school administration should get involved if necessary when a student is mocked for wearing or not wearing a mask. school. .

Depending on how old the child is, Wilson said, it may be helpful for them to ignore peers who make fun of them, explain the reason for their decision to disguise or not disguise, or report the problem to an adult.

“This experience will be very different for kindergarten students than for high school students because you are dealing with their ability to defend themselves or express their own opinions,” Wilson said. “It really gives parents a chance to think positively and positively about their children’s lives.”

Reminding them that bullying is never their fault and that it is never justified, Armstrong said it can be helpful to ask the child targeted questions to assess how they feel:

  • Can you tell me more about what you heard or saw?

  • Has this happened to you before?

  • Are you worried this will happen again?

  • What will make you feel safe?

School officials must also create an enabling environment for children’s learning and growth, and promote the health and well-being of students through a shared understanding of bullying and the negative effects it has on mental health, Armstrong urged.

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Evan Moore is a reporter for office journalism at Charlotte Observer. He grew up in Denver, North Carolina, where he previously worked as a reporter for Denver Citizen, and is a graduate of UNC Charlotte.



How to talk to children about masks after the end of Mecklenburg’s term

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