Ever since COVID restrictions were lifted, it has been difficult for my 12 year old sister to adapt to these changes. Specifically the mask situation. Even though the mask restriction was lifted very long ago, my sister still seems very attached to it. I mean we all were at some point, but it faded away with time. For the first few months after we stopped wearing masks, we begged her to stop doing so when we go out, especially in open areas. She gradually got convinced doing so only when she’s with us.
At school, almost 99.9% are unmasked but she still insists to wear her mask. She has a very close best friend who’s also insisting to wear a mask. Her friend’s mother told me about her concern on her daughter’s attachment to the mask, which is the same concern I have. I’m very concerned because I feel like the mask attachment has developed into anxiety. It’s not about her afraid of the disease, it’s not about her protecting herself or the community. It’s about her being so used to wearing it at school that she cannot change that habit. She can’t even explain to me the reasons behind her still wanting to mask up. Her teachers are telling me they never saw her face, they wish to see her face once, even if they say that in her presence she would never let her mask down. Her PE teacher told me she wears the mask even during PE!
We once went out with her to meet her friends at a mall. She and her best friend showed up with their black masks while the 3rd friend was unmasked. When we go to the same mall as a family, she doesn’t wear the mask. They were also wearing it inside the dark cinema hall. I recall her friend letting down her maks very quickly to eat some popcorn and then put it back on very quickly while watching the movie at the cinema.
Before everything that happened with COVID, my sister used to eat everything in her lunchbox. Now, she comes back home with untouched food, and she comes home very hungry and out of energy. It seems like she doesn’t want to eat her food at school so that she doesn’t let her mask down.
I’m not sure why? Is she scared of having her classmates and teachers see her face? Is she not confident about the way she looks? Is she insecure about something? I can’t get to let her speak and i’m very worried.
I don’t know how to behave in such situations. What is the correct way to go about lessining her anxiety (if she’s really anxious) and helping her embrace her maskless face?