The stress relief technique of putting a mask on your kids is now a reality.
The practice, called the “pig-mask,” is gaining popularity with parents.
“I think it’s great, it’s really good, but the problem is I’ve seen a lot of parents who just don’t want to do it because they don’t think it is appropriate,” says Dr. Michael F. Cauce, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of the book “Pig Mask: Why Parents Are Pushing to Make Your Kids Cry.”
“If they’re a little upset, I can see that, but they don, in fact, want to make them cry,” he says.
“It’s a very subtle way of putting them in a situation where they’re going to be a little stressed out.”
Parents often don’t even realize it is their child’s cry that is being addressed, because their behavior is not helping.
“We tend to have an expectation that when we see someone cry, it is because they are crying because they want to, or because they think they are,” says CauCE.
“But it’s the opposite: They are crying for other reasons.”
The practice is not new.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that 70 percent of parents reported that they used the mask to calm their children during an emotionally stressful situation, while only 20 percent said they did so for “crying for themselves.”
In a separate study, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found that 71 percent of mothers and fathers who use the mask reported having a positive reaction to it.
But the masks can be uncomfortable to use, particularly for older children who can often be confused by the color.
“The parents may not even be aware of what the mask is, but it is very easy to look at a child and see, ‘Oh, I’m wearing this mask for crying, but that’s not what it’s doing,'” says Csuan.
“If you can’t tell the difference between the mask and the parent, then it’s going to affect their experience with crying, so it’s hard to recommend.”
There is a solution: a product called the Stress Relief Mask.
Designed by Csuas colleagues at Harvard University, the mask offers a soothing, soothing way to bring your child to a state of calm.
The company claims that its product reduces stress and helps calm your child through the “mood reset.”
But there are some concerns.
Csua claims that it can reduce anxiety in children with ADHD, but experts caution that the mask doesn’t address the underlying cause of ADHD and is not a cure.
“These masks have been shown to be very effective for treating the symptoms of ADHD,” says Laura S. Wieder, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“They have been proven to help improve mood and improve functioning of children who have ADHD, and they have been found to be effective for reducing stress.”
While parents can use the masks in many situations, including when they are stressed, Cauces says they should be used with caution.
“Parents who use these products should be aware that the masks themselves may irritate the child, and the mask can make the child feel uncomfortable,” says he.
“This mask may be uncomfortable for children to wear and could lead to a negative reaction.
Parents should also be aware, however, that the use of the masks may not be appropriate for all children.”
The mask also has an effect on how parents respond to other symptoms.
“As a parent, I am usually very reactive to any suggestion that my child is upset,” says Siegel, who is the founder and executive director of the Child Stress Coalition, an organization of parents and children who advocate for solutions to family and child stress.
“When we are feeling anxious and I have to take action, I try to do things to alleviate the anxiety.
But as soon as something is out of the norm, my child becomes very agitated and hyper-focused, which can cause problems.”
“My biggest worry is that the anxiety may be a sign that something is not working,” he said.
“There are certain situations where we need to be extremely vigilant, especially when there is a child who needs us to be extra-extra vigilant.”
“This is not going to solve the problem, but if we are proactive and help children become more self-disciplined and more responsible and more aware, then that will be beneficial.”