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Are your children afraid of masks?

Your kids may be scared of face coverings, but a local doctor says it's best to not "mask" the problem

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Why do some kids have such a hard time with seeing masks on people's faces? Why are they so afraid? I spoke with Dr. Ali Hassoun, an infectious disease specialist here in Huntsville.

"With children, it's how much they're familiar with that and how much others do it," he tells me. "Is it familiar for them or is it a strange thing for them?"

He says it may become easier for kids once they see those closest to them wearing masks.

"As the kids see their parents do it, as they see their grandpa and grandma do it, their older sister and brother do it, they're going get used to it, and they'll learn from that."

But you should know that getting your kids used to masks is not the same as pressuring them to wear one.

"I don't think we necessarily we need to enforce the kids to do it, or make them hate it or worry about it. It's more of a learning experience for them."

It's parental instinct to want to tell our kids what they want to hear, but when it comes to Covid-19, the best choice you have is to not "mask" anything.

"I think it's very important to tell them the truth about it," says Hassoun. "It's everywhere - they see it, they hear it - and they'll know a lot of the information when they get exposed to it, so it's better to tell them from the beginning."

We've seen all kinds of masks - some are creative, some are funny and some are just plain cool to look at. But according to Dr. Hassoun, wearing one comes down to two simple questions.

Credit: JJ Vincent
Some masks are great to look at, but are they effective?

"'Is it safe, is it effective as well?' We need to be careful because I've seen, for example, the football teams they do and the cartoon themes. My main worry with these is they are not designed to help protect people."

But when it comes to children who are afraid of masks, face coverings like these might be a start to the solution.

Hassoun continues, "If the kid wouldn't want to put on the surgical mask, I really don't think it would be a problem to put the cloth mask on. You can start it as a 'playing' thing, and slowly get it to a way that's more effective."

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