Child psychologist empowers kids to take a stand against mask bullying

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Schools and parents are divided. While some kids may be required to wear masks in schools others may have the option.  

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This got one Indianapolis doctor concerned about mask bullying. Kids can be cruel and bullying has always been an issue. Layer cloth fabric over a child’s mouth while walking the hallways when it may not be mandated may add another target to their back.

However, not if parents can empower their children to remember why they are masking up in the first place. 

News 8 spoke with Dr. Brett Enneking, psychologist at Riley Children’s Health, about how adults can have conversations with kids so they can arm their children with the tools to remember why they are wearing face coverings not only for themselves, but for others. 

“So often I think parents are a little bit nervous to broach some of these more difficult topics because they don’t want to make their child afraid of what might happen,” she said. “But I also think there is something important to be said for being prepared.”

So, Enneking came up with an acronym for families to remember: M-A-S-K. Mask. 

M, she says, stands for “Modeling masking behavior for others”. A stands for “Asking for help.” She wants kids to remember they don’t have to deal with bullying alone. Parents, teachers and school staff are there to help. 

S is “Stand up for yourself and others.” Enneking says it’s important for kids to be able to approach a peer who may have said something unkind and say “Please stop. I’m just making a different choice than you.”

And then finally K.” Keep a reminder of why you are doing it.”

Enneking uses the example of a child who has an immunocompromised sibling or someone else in the family is at greater risk for COVID-19. The “Keep a reminder of Why” she says can help kids push through those unkind experiences keeping them strong and empowered. 


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