It’s no surprise that 2021 has been a year of masks. Though symptoms of Covid-19 vary from one person to the other, combating this deadly virus still seems to be a foggy journey. That said, wearing masks in public has become the most known behavior. It has become the new normal due to the imposition of fines by the U.S. government and other countries’ governing bodies.
It seems like the demand for non-surgical masks is here to stay. But it’s a worrisome situation because these masks are playing a somewhat negative role. Covering the mouth hinders communication between children and parents/caregivers.
Facial expressions: a symbol of communication among infants and toddlers
While covering faces in public is understandable, it limits a child’s ability to read a person’s facial expressions. Young children rely on their elders’ emotional cues so they can interpret if there’s a comfortable or threatening situation. Based on that, they respond to specific situations accordingly.
Here’s an example: infants and toddlers would perceive it as a happy moment if their mother smiles at them. Likewise, they will avoid touching a dangerous object if she makes a fearful facial expression. This emotional signaling also refers to social referencing.