Kids and adults have different roles and different parts of ourselves that we show to others. We don’t act the same way in front of our parents as we do our teachers, coaches, or friends. This is normal and healthy – it shows that we understand the complexity of relationships and how to set healthy boundaries. But sometimes as a result of this behavior, adults miss out on really understanding a child. An adult might assume that a kid who sits in her office and doesn’t say more than two words is introverted and shy. If she learns that the child is actually one of the most popular students in the school and extremely outgoing, that could be helpful information in working with the child. A parent might think that a child is tired and grumpy all the time, but learn that he’s always on track at school, and just gets tired at the end of the day when he gets home.
The mask activity helps us understand more about a child than what we see on the surface. Give the child a mask template and explain that there are different aspects of ourselves that we show to different people. For example, you might be really silly at home with your kids, but really serious in a meeting at work. Tell them that sometimes there might be parts of yourself that you wish others knew about you. Maybe you think everyone at work thinks you’re too serious and never have any fun, and you wish they knew that you were really silly at home with your kids.
Ask them to draw some of their true self on the mask. Anything that they feel represents who they really are, whether or not people know it, can go on there. Follow up with some questions, such as:
What aspects of yourself do you reveal to others?
Are there aspects about yourself that you wish you could reveal to others?
What prevents you from that?
What is the purpose of keeping some things hidden?
How do you take care of yourself in your relationships with others?
Giving kids the voice to open up about who they really are can be very powerful. So often we discover that all kids really need is someone to listen