How can I help my child understand the change to mask guidance?

Families/Kids Masks Mental Health Reopening

The new CDC guidance recommends that masks need not be worn in areas with low community risk, including at school.

If your child is anxious about this change, it’s no surprise. Changes of any type can produce anxiety. And after two years of wearing a mask, your child may not even remember what it was like to go out without one.

To minimize anxiety, it’s important to tell kids what to expect in advance. “It’s not so much masks or no masks that cause stress; it’s the cascade of changes that takes a toll,” say Drs. Elizabeth Englander and Katharine Covino-Poutasse in a recent essay in The Conversation.

Experts suggest that consistency is important to ease kids’ anxieties. Try setting some consistent rules for your household which allow for wearing masks in some situations but not others. For example, our rules are that we do what feels safe for us, we try to protect other people, and we treat other people’s opinions with respect. Then when it’s masks-on in one situation and masks-off in another, kids can fall back on those fundamental rules to help understand why. Also, tell your kid what to expect and give them a chance to ask questions before new situations, or old situations with new rules.

Other great tips from Drs. Englander and Covino-Poutasse:

🟣 Think ahead to what you will do when you feel uncomfortable
🟣 Be prepared to encounter people who don’t agree with you
🟣 Be upfront about your own expectations with other people coming into your home
🟣 Ask your child how they are feeling about the changes
🟣 Communicate with the important adults in your child’s life, like their teacher and grandparents.

Read their full essay here.