The California mask mandate for schools ended March 11, but you may see some children choosing to wear one. Masks have acted as a safety blanket for insecurities and vulnerability for some students, says Kaitlyn McLaughlin, LMFT, LPCC, clinical therapist at the Behavioral Medicine Center.
McLaughlin works with anxious children weekly in the Child Intensive Outpatient Program. She oversees a track that is specific to helping children overcome anxieties, including social anxiety and generalized anxiety. Though the COVID-19 pandemic may have seemed lengthy for some, McLaughlin says children experienced major developments amid the pandemic and had to try and keep up with the many changes and mandates.
“It’s been a lifestyle change for them to adopt a new way of socializing and being a student in class with a mask,” McLaughlin said. “So now we’re seeing more hesitation, more anxiety, more overwhelming instances where our kids are wanting to know ‘is it OK for me to do this now?’”
She encourages parents to be patient with their children and ease them into removing the mask, as it is their choice.
If your child is suffering from anxiety, the Behavioral Medicine Center offers a variety of services that encourage resiliency in children and the family unit.