My child is scared of face masks
Many children’s experience with adults wearing masks is connected to medical procedures which can elicit fears in your child. Even the simplest masks can be scary. They may link masks to infections, hospital stays, medical procedures and even Halloween. Children may also connect face masks with danger, illness and infection and as a result, there can be an increase their anxiety. A great way to redirect this fear is highlighting mask-wearing superheroes they know and love. It is very unusual to see mum and dad wearing face-masks, let alone most of the community. Remember new things can make children feel unsettled.
Let your child know that is okay to feel scared or worried when you see people wearing masks
Preparation is the key, discuss why everyone is wearing masks
Normalise wearing a mask and try not to model your distress/discomfort
Explain its not about danger its about safety, same as wearing a seat belt or a bike helmet
Link the ideas that Nurses and Doctors wear masks because they are just like the superheroes who wear masks…their job is keeping us safe
With very young children practice playing peek-a-boo so they get used to Mum or Dad smiling under their mask and
Put a mask on a favourite stuffed animal.
Draw a mask on their favourite book character
Show your child pictures of other children and adults they know wearing masks.
What to do if they don’t want to wear a mask
Remember only children 12 years and older need to be wearing a mask. However, you may wish your child to wear a mask if they are vulnerable. Some young people with developmental challenges or those who have ASD or ADHD may find the new face mask rules difficult.
If you need your child to wear a face mask focus on the concept that they too are being superheroes
Let them have a say in what mask they get to wear
Consider fabric masks that are available in the colours, patterns or characters they like
Wearing masks, look in the mirror and talk about it.
Decorate a mask so it’s more personalised and fun.
Make a mask from something familiar.
Have your child practice wearing a mask at home first
Children, like adults, require visuals to understand what it is happening and to interpret how others are feeling. These cues are impacted when half your face is covered.
Play “Guess the feeling” to learn about how some feels by their eyes and eyebrows
Practice talking with your mask on to your child to determine the correct volume
Discuss/Practice gestures that will assist when communicating with a mask on
Children will need to rely on tone to respond appropriately when you are communicating with them so make this clear
Links to Social Stories about Face Masks:
For young children
When do I have to wear a mask