When we think of a child wearing a mask, most of the time we think fun; make believe, Halloween, or Mardi Gras. Pretending and using their imagination.
Wearing a mask can also be something that protects us. It can be a way of coping with fears, anxieties and insecurities. It can help us from being bullied or worse.
A mask can protect us from secrets or it can foster secrets. It can protect us from being mistreated. But wearing a mask can sometime be a burden, be uncomfortable and block our true selves.
As a child an artificial mask might be a fake smile, or it can be exhibited as anxiety, quietness, or even lying.
I remember as a child my masks began with a smile. It wasn’t a real smile, but I hid behind it. No one knew how I really felt inside. I would be Hoping it would help me make it through the day.
Maybe you are feeling your child is showing signs of hiding behind a mask; not showing their true selves.
Things to look for;
- Do they have friends? How do they interact with classmates?
- When you hear conservations with friends or observing how they act with their friends. Do you see their true self or do their words and actions seem put on, do they put on a mask or do they seem to show what you believe to be their genuine self.
- Pay attention to if they are gossiping or if you think they are being bullied.
- Pay attention when you have discussions with teachers for more than just how they are doing academically Ask for your child’s teacher evaluation on how your child participates with other children.
Ways to help them remove the mask and celebrate their uniqueness.
- Encourage playdates that will help them communicate with their peers. Keep the focus on smaller groups so they don’t get overwhelmed or too anxious. Smaller groups can nurture success.
- Provide opportunities to shine in an activities or clubs. Encourage them to take risks and praise them when they are successful.
The more successful they are being their genuine self the faster the protective mask will come off.
Sometimes our children are hiding because they actually do not want to shine in front of others. Some children are embarrassed and they keep quiet about it.
By encouraging accomplishments, it reinforces their strengths and improves the possibility of removing their mask. Let them know it is ok to be unique and to shine.
As a child, wearing a mask should be something done out of a sense of fun not due to a need for protection.
“Removing my mask shows courage. It takes time.
I work at daily and as I do, I grow stronger.”