PHILADELPHIA - As children head back to school, masking up is causing some anxiety and fear for kids who will now have to wear a mask in the classroom all day.
FOX 29's Dawn Timmeney talked to a local therapist with some tips.
Nasir Cooper, 5, is burned off some steam at a Center City, Philadelphia playground before his first day of school Wednesday. This little guy was super excited but knows he'll also have to wear a mask when he's inside the classroom.
His dad, Samaj Cooper, says they've talked about it and he is okay with masking up.
"I want him to learn as much as possible, be as normal as possible, just have a good day without all the stress," Cooper said.
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Therapist Chimere Holmes says it's important to encourage kids to ask questions even at the age of 5 and let them know their voice matters.
"We want our kids to speak up. It's good for their mental health, so they don't isolate or withdraw. They don't keep all those feelings bottled up," she explained.
She adds we also need to let our children know, we are all in this together, and wearing a mask keeps everyone safe. She says that may quell some of their anxiety and fear and approach the discussion with optimism.
Research shows positivity goes a long way in the pandemic and such transitions.
Matthew Saliagkas' 4-year-old daughter is starting to pre-K on Friday and already knows the drill when it comes to masks.
"My daughter is very understanding. We explain she has to wear it because of some sickness that goes around," he said.
Holmes says parents can have their kids practice wearing masks a little longer at home to get used to the school day and have them be fashionable. She also says children mimic their parents, so if mom and dad are wearing their masks indoors and around a lot of people, they are likely to do the same without much argument.