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How Can We Deal With Wearing Masks (Fall 2022)

The past (almost) three years have been terrible for everyone, especially for children. Subjected to a global pandemic, they were removed from their schools, friends, and communities. Worst of all, it creates a climate of fear, keeping children from venturing out into the world and exploring. While this was helpful during its zenith, Canada has reported no new cases this week, signalling that the crisis is over. This does not mean that the problem is over internationally, with China entering lockdowns while Canada exits them.

 

What do you do when you have a Canadian child who has roots in China? They would hear about the lockdowns in Shanghai and question why Canada is so lax. Furthermore, they may become critical of their classmates who decide to attend mask-free. This creates a whole host of problems, some may result in decreased social opportunities and so forth. Consider how people communicate with one another, using a combination of speech, eye movement, and non-verbal communication (like using hands). This ignores the plight of deaf students, who will be unable to make out what is being said (due to the mouth being covered). While masks are helpful, they also pose risks to a child’s development, causing them to experience stress and anxiety.

 

Your child may ask you if there is a cure, something is impossible to develop due to its changing nature. This does not mean that it is equally dangerous among all ages, with older people being more vulnerable than young students. While this ignores students with compromised immune systems, it does suggest that Canadian students are less likely to become seriously sick. If your child does ask for a cure, you can go over the Health Canada reports which break down the numbers into clear categories. If your child is still not convinced–to remove their mask–you can ask them if anything else is scaring them. There is a chance that they are simply scared of being seen, having their face revealed after so much time. Furthermore, they may not remember the last time that they went outside without a mask, causing increased fear and stress. It is important not to “talk down” to your child, instead listening to their concerns carefully.

We all know the popular nightmare of being on stage, giving a speech to a large crowd. All of a sudden we look down and notice that we are naked! While it is not as extreme, some students may feel nude without their masks, as if it covers something either “taboo or dangerous.” This makes sense when considering the transmittable nature of Covid-19, the direct entryway for the virus. If your child is scared to take off their mask, you can recommend that they keep the original social distances guidelines, which mandate a separation of 2 meters.

 

While the world has many dangerous elements, it is not something to be feared. Children develop best when exposed to a variety of people and places, something that is limited by agoraphobia, or the fear of outdoor spaces. Like an old bandaid, it may hurt when it comes off, but hurts more the longer it stays on.

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