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3yo DS is scared of masks - anyone been there?

(11 Posts)
notjustamummythankyou Wed 03-Oct-12 18:29:22

My DS is normally such a confident, happy go lucky little boy, but very recently he's talking about being 'worried' and 'scared' about things. Most of the time, it's just fairly trivial things and, with an explanation and a cuddle, he's reassured.

Last week, however, he had a complete meltdown at pre-school. Another little boy was wearing a Spiderman mask, and DS absolutely hated it, bursting into tears and running away. The staff said it took quite some time to reassure him that everything was OK. Over the weekend, we explained who Spiderman was, that he was a good man, and that it was just one of his friends wearing a mask pretending to rescue people. That seemed to work.

But today, he's had a similar meltdown at nursery when another child was wearing a duck mask. It really does seem to be the fact that the person's face is covered, and nothing to do with how frightening (or not) the mask is.

He's already showing an aversion to the Halloween displays starting to appear in the shops. I want to deal with this in a way that acknowledges his worries, but doesn't build them up in a way that suggests there is something very real to worry about. It's a very fine balance. We've already suggested that he makes his own mask of Tree Fu Tom (the current fave), but he really doesn't want to, and I don't want to push it just now.

So, has anyone been there, and how did you deal with it? Thanks!

FelixDaSouza Wed 03-Oct-12 18:35:35

My son was scared of masks from a young age.

Halloween was a no-go for a good few years and then he just grew out of it. He's nearly 7 now and is regularly seen going about his day dressed up as one thing or another and is positively ecstatic about Halloween coming up!

I think you have to just reassure him and carry in doing what you're doing. He's only wee and will no doubt grow out if it. smile

notjustamummythankyou Wed 03-Oct-12 18:56:06

Thank you Felix - good advice! smile

desertgirl Wed 03-Oct-12 19:00:32

Mine was the same, really, really freaked if anyone was around in a mask (whatever sort of mask). Like Felix he just seemed to grow out of it, probably aged about 5. Good luck smile

cory Thu 04-Oct-12 08:17:36

Dd was the same: Guy Fawkes was a nightmare and I have vivid recollections of spending the best time of a 24 hour crossing to Scandinavia up on deck because somebody thought it would be a good idea to have a large furry dolphin greeting the new passengers as they crossed the gangway.

Dd is now nearly 16 and dreaming of a career on the stage. She grew out of it. Just be calm and reassuring.

Thistledew Thu 04-Oct-12 08:25:34

I don't blame him. Masks are freaking horrible. I have to take a strong grip of myself when I'm around anyone wearing one.

Reassurance that they are nothing to be feared, but also acknowledging his discomfort and offering him ways to deal with it - look away from the face and take some slow deep breaths - is the way to go. Don't belittle his fears or try to jolly him out of them.

Skivvytomany Thu 04-Oct-12 08:32:40

I think it's a common fear when they are wee. I know that most of the nurserys here say no masks or scary face paints when they have their halloween party. Like the others have said they seem to grow out of it when they get a bit older.

Skivvytomany Thu 04-Oct-12 08:35:29

Oops pressed too soon. My 2 sons were like that too but now like really scary masks. In fact I'm going this afternoon to pick up some sort of scary ghost pirate costume that my youngest picked for halloween from Tesco.

Poledra Thu 04-Oct-12 08:48:48

Haven't had it with masks, but DD2 was terrified of balloons when she was small. I just went with it, did not have balloons in the house, removed her from situations where she was scared (once had to call DH to come get her frmo a party where there was someone making balloon animals, and I couldn't take her home as DD1 was there too and loving it!). She was scared of the bang when a balloon burst. I tried to be calming and show her there wasn't really anything to be frightened of, but acknowledged her fear and did everything I could to make sure she was OK. I remember her being so proud the first time she didn't cry when a balloon burst near her smile

She's grown out of it (at 6) to the extent that she can play with balloons and cope with them bursting but she still doesn't like loud bangs and won't go to fireworks display, for example.

gourd Thu 04-Oct-12 10:19:43

Not surprising as the human face is a most immediately recognisable thing - even a tiny baby responds to a drawn sketch of a face, a circle with eye and nose and mouth drawn onto it. Masks are intended to disguise the wearer which in itself can be a bit disconcerting when you don't know who you are talking to. Covering your face takes away most of the distinguishing features a person has, so for children this can make the wearer "unknown", a stranger, and therefore a bit frightening, even if the mask itself is not intended to be a frightening one - although many are of course! I guess they grow out of it, but maybe making your own "friendly" masks with him and talk about what masks are used for (in plays etc) might help...

notjustamummythankyou Fri 05-Oct-12 10:55:56

Thanks for all for your comments - they're really helpful.

I think we'll keep on doing what we've been doing, and he'll come through it in his own time.

Thanks again. smile

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