Parents Protest Masks: Teens Willing to Wear Them

The COVID-19 epidemic has led to concerns regarding education, social compliance, personal freedoms, work, health care, and social responsibility. While many parents focus on their, and their children’s personal rights, teens have often taken a different route. Though some teens are handling issues related to the pandemic well, others struggle with feelings of anxiety, alienation, and depression due to the changes they are confronting. If you find yourself at odds with your teen in these times, consider reaching out to a residential treatment center that excels in providing structure and guidance for troubled teens.

Why Children are Eager to Comply with Mask Mandates

Many school districts across the nation have mandated mask-wearing and social distancing within the classroom to allow children to return to brick-and-mortar classrooms. These mandates are in line with CDC guidance schools have received on best practices to support the return of kids to the classroom. The CDC has guided schools to have students wear cloth coverings over their mouth and nose, wash hands frequently, and maintain social distancing in the classroom.

While some parents have revolted against these regulations seeing mandated mask-wearing as an infringement on their right to choose, many kids view this limit as a reasonable request when it means getting back to a sense of normalcy. Dallee Cobb, a cheerleader for a high school in Utah, sums up the view many teens hold.

“If school gets taken away, that’s 99% of our lives...I just want to make the best of what we’re given.”

While parents may see the social engagement of their teens as frivolous engagement, or believe that technology can replace face-to-face engagement in the lives of their teens, mental health providers are noticing that smartphones and zoom calls fail to provide teens the social contact that they have come to rely upon. Mental health providers that work with young people see that the social isolation that comes with virtual learning and hours spent alone, takes a negative toll on many teens.

Why it May be Worth Supporting Your Child Complying with Mask Mandates

Social isolation and loneliness have been seen to increase an individual’s risk of depression and anxiety. The length of time an individual experiences social isolation has a huge impact on their likelihood of experiencing mental health symptoms. As the time your child or teen is isolated from the social engagement they crave increases, you may expect to see increased signs of anxiety and depression.

So, even if you have ideological beliefs that would lead you to encourage your child to rebel against their school’s mandates, you need to consider the long term implications these actions may have on your child.

Most schools will not allow children who refuse to wear a mask to attend in-class instruction. If your child refuses to comply with their school’s mask mandates, they will generally be sent home. As hard as it is for a child to tolerate isolation when it is necessary, their rebellious actions at this point may result in their continued isolation at a time when their friends are being allowed to come together in at least some sense of normalcy.

If your child faces continued isolation due to your guidance, you may find that your child becomes resentful. This resentment, combined with your child’s increased mental health risks due to continued social isolation, can be a bad combination. Your well-intended guidance may result in acts of defiance, a rift in your relationship with your child, increased feelings of isolation, and ultimately symptoms associated with anxiety and depression.

If you notice increases in odd behavior, acts of defiance, feelings of anxiety or depression, you may want to reach out for professional help. If you need support, contact Liahona Treatment Center about your troubled teen today.

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