These are difficult days. Parents are worried about sending their kids back to school, and kids are worried about returning to school and wearing a mask. As a clinic, we’ve had so many portal messages and calls about what to do. Here are a few ideas about how to help your kids:
- Don’t fuss: Or if you do, fuss with purpose. When you wear your mask, your kids are watching. If you complain about how uncomfortable it is, your kids will have a negative response to their own masks. If you’re uncomfortable, call it with words out loud that show that you understand the importance of this, “Ugh, sometimes I just want to take this off, but I know how important it is for our whole community and country that we wear masks. Maybe I just need a little mask break.” Schools will allow kids to have a mask break in an environment that is safe for them and for others. Encourage them to ask for a mask break when they need it.
- Have some fun: There are some funny and fun masks available online. Jane.com and Etsy are two places (of many) where your kids can find some masks with attitude. You can also buy some disposable masks, some permanent markers, a glue gun, and some beads or sparkles and let your kids design a few of their own masks.
- Trust that your kids are capable: When parents trust that their kids can do this, the message to your kids is that they are capable, competent, and they don’t need to be babied. Remember that over-protecting our kids from discomfort gives them a message that they’re not capable of managing themselves and this can foster anxiety. You raised these kids. Trust them.
- Remember that masks save lives: If we can step back just a moment and look at the science, we will see that wearing a mask is our very best chance of taking care of ourselves and others. The best treatment, Remdesivir, gives us only a 10% improved chance of survival if we are very, very sick. Masks give us as much as a 40% chance of avoiding the illness altogether. And although most kids do well with the virus, some do not. Even in kids who recover there can be as much as a 20% reduction in lung function. It is not known if this is temporary or permanent. We need time to get to a vaccine. Masks and social distancing give us this time.
- Get your flu shot as soon as possible: Although the flu shot will not protect us against Coronavirus specifically, there was a recent study out of the Mayo Clinic that showed that travelers who got a vaccine (polio or pneumonia) and then traveled, had a 28-43% reduction in risk of getting Coronavirus. They published their data early to promote getting other vaccines that are due in the hope that getting a vaccine turns on the machinery of our immune system to fight whatever comes our way. The flu shot will also provide protection against the other major respiratory illness of the fall and winter seasons, Influenza. We all need to do the right thing and reduce the burden of illness in our community this fall so that there is enough PPE, hospital rooms, health care workers, and ventilators, etc., to take care of those of us who get so very ill.
- We’ve got this! Together we can help stamp out Coronavirus and build a caring and supportive community in the process. Win:win.
Protect our community – please share this article with other parents.
by Dr. Delahunty.