Profound Effects of Masks on Children's Emotions

I usually don't like to write essays on my blog, because I'm not in school, and you're not paid to read them. However, every once in a while, I subject will strike me as important enough to research and convey the information. Something happened before work the other day that triggered a lasting thought that I felt I needed to delve into.

Some studies show that we communicate up to 90% of our intent through non-verbal communications. This means the subtle twitches of the mouth from a smile to a smirk to a frown. This includes the little nose twitch and the crinkle of an eyebrow. There are so many things that result in full communication, and our children are missing out on these.

I was standing in line at the Jamba Juice in my local mall, grabbing a smoothie before work. A little girl ran up with her mom and grandma, got the biggest smile on her face, and waved to me. I smiled, a reaction usually hidden behind a fabric mask in this time of the pandemic. And I realized that her face lit up because I was wearing a clear face shield that day.

I was testing a theory, because, with masks in our overheated, non-air-conditioned mall, I tended to get so hot and sweaty that it made me sick. The shield, combined with our POS barriers and our thorough cleaning means that I was covered for the legal mandates of PPE.

But in that moment of bright smiles, I thought about my own kids. I thought about how my husband's youngest child doesn't recognize me until my mask is off. So, in public, he's wary of sharing attention or tends to get shy. But when my mask is off, he's all smiles and plays.

I thought about my oldest, who is highly emotional but feels cut off from the world by the lack of visible facial expressions. He struggles to identify intent and feelings from those around him when he's in public.

I can't even begin to imagine how the lack of emotional expression is going to affect our youth in decades to come. There are other articles written by big-time journalists about the same topic. You can read them here. This is the article from Time Magazine.

How are you helping your kids learn how to read emotions and expressions with all these masks around?

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