Hot Topics     Home and Family    

Is your child afraid of the masks we wear?



Ways to make wearing masks and seeing others wearing them less frightening

COVID, masks, kids, scared

Over the past few months, the simple masks that Hudson Valley residents are wearing went from the disposable surgical masks we see at doctors’ offices to bandannas or elaborate ones that look like they’re out of a Hollywood movie. However, despite how much masks are being accepted by adults, our young kids may still see them as scary.

There are children who find Halloween frightening, children who hate clowns, children who react badly to anyone without a standard human face.  As reported in the New York Times, Roberto Olivardia, a lecturer in psychology at Harvard Medical School, said that as many as 1 percent of children may suffer from “maskaphobia,” which is a fear that persists for longer than six months, usually thought of in relation to costumes and superheroes. 

But for many children, seeing their parents wearing masks as they come and go, or going outside, in a world where most people are wearing masks, can be disconcerting, frightening or a source of sadness. One reason children may find masks disconcerting is that the ability to recognize — and read — faces is much weaker in young children than it will be by adolescence. Kang Lee, a professor of applied psychology and human development at the University of Toronto, who studies the development of facial recognition skills in children says that adults look at faces as a whole. “If you wear a mask, I can still recognize you, even though half of your face is covered, I can still recognize the structure of your face,” he says. 

Starting at around age 6, children begin to develop these skills, but it’s not until they are about 14 that they reach adult skill levels in recognizing faces. So even friends and neighbors — seen from a distance — who are wearing masks may look more unfamiliar to children than they do to adults.

Here are three suggestions of your child is still wary of masks:
  • Parents are encouraged to put on, take masks off, and repeat the action so that a child sees that it’s still their parents.
  • Children may see those who wear masks as bad people, so remind them that the masks are being worn to help others, just like washing hands.
  • Connect the wearing of masks to a superhero and use doctors and nurses as examples of heroes who protect and help people, where masks are part of their uniform. The child is a superhero, too, when they wear their mask.


Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • Recreation destinations with access for people with disabilities

    18 Hudson Valley parklands recommended by the DEC

    New York campgrounds, educational centers and other facilities offer many recreational opportunities for people with disabilities (and the rest of us), including camping, picnicking, fishing and nature viewing. read more »
  • What does playing “Red Light, Green Light” Teach?

    Self-Regulation is an important ability for kids to understand and learn

    Those who successfully display self-regulation in their everyday behavior enjoy greater well-being. A study from 2016 showed that adolescents who regularly engage in self-regulatory behavior report greater well-being then their peers, including enhanced life satisfaction, perceived social support, and feeling “good.” read more »
  • Are your plants are getting enough water?

    Crazy weather matches what’s going on in the world

    At every stage of their lifecycle, plants use water. Water signals to seeds that it is safe to germinate, and once the first set of leaves emerge from the soil, water becomes fundamental to photosynthesis (the process by which a plant manufactures food for further growth). read more »
  • Does being online hurt our kids?

    Ways parents can protect kids while they are online

    With COVID-19 social distancing measures in place nationwide, kids are now even more glued to their screens. So what’s the best way to protect them? Watch their every move? Track their Google history? read more »
  • A 250-acre haven for garden lovers and their kids

    New York Botanical Garden to open in July

    The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), located in the Bronx, occupies 250 acres of dramatic rock outcroppings, rolling hills, waterfalls and ponds. There are over one million plants in the 50 theme gardens, delighting more than 750,000 visitors each year. read more »
  • Visit a 2,000-acre treasure for walking, hiking, birdwatching and just for enjoying life

    Bashakill Wildlife Management Area with its easy and flat terrain

    Several miles of trails trace an old rail line and the towpath of the former Delaware & Hudson Canal on the eastern and western sides of Bashakill Marsh. The Nature Trail off South Road takes you into the marsh, as do Haven Road and Birch Trail. A fishing pier for those with mobility limitations and four viewing towers offer scenic vistas. read more »
  • The best in free online youth arts classes

    Sign up for great session for kids 12 to 16 years old

    Jarrett Markel Creativity Boot Camp; Free Online Youth Arts Classes. Project 10: "Found Poetry" with Anusha Mehar Ages: 12-16 After 4 months of social distancing we have tried to stay away from encouraging your kids to go online. But this method of encouraging your children to enjoy poe... read more »
  • Prevent chapped skin after frequent washing

    Important to keep skin healthy to avoid cracks

    The message we are getting is that washing our hands more frequently will keep us healthy. There is a BUT to all this handwashing. Dry, chapped skin. Ironically, by over-washing our skin, we can develop dry cracks in the skin, giving bacteria an entry point into our bodies. read more »
  • Great selection of summer reading for our girls...and you too!

    A Mighty Girl's popular girl-empowering summer reading list is here!

    The books featured in A Mighty Girl’s summer reading list is just a small sample of the over 4,000 girl-empowering books for children and teens featured on A Mighty Girl. read more »
  • Spend a night out with your kids – in the backyard!

    Camping…long-lasting memories with these family fun activities

    Have a blast. Camp close to home. Enjoy the full benefits of a camping trip in your backyard (or neighborhood), complete with a stocked fridge and indoor plumbing. read more »