Worst Case Scenario for a Masked Two Year Old?

As much as I was hoping to avoid it, it looks like our trip this fall will be during or just after our son’s 2nd birthday. So he will be required to wear a mask. I feel like I need to solve my ‘worst case scenario’ type problem in order to move on with planning the trip.

He is a big kid, so I expect CM to assume that he is 2. And if he has turned 2, I will not lie to them. DS4 has been fine with wearing a mask although he doesn’t super love it, but he’s had so much time to get used to it and DS1 has been happily oblivious of the whole thing.

My current brain obsession: What if he refuses to wear the mask? Will CM be gracious enough to get him calmed down? Can we pull the mask back up and move quickly past the CM towards the relaxation station?

Worst case scenario: We get the mask on for the CM, then move quickly to a stationary distanced place for some water and calm down time. Then we try promising him a treat to get through a ride? We will have grandparents with us as well, so the absolute worst that can happen is that we trade off hanging out at Tomorrowland Terrace people watching with him while the rest enjoy rides.

What I can do now to avoid this:

  • Start practicing with the mask soon. He’s not quite 18 months yet. I was encouraged to see some mentions here of 1 or 2 year old children doing ok with masks. I’d love to hear your success stories!
  • Plan most of our park days before his birthday.

Side note: I can’t help but think that Disney will be able to downgrade the mask mandate by November since we will have had so many months of open vaccination. I don’t necessarily want to bet on this completely though.

What would you recommend? I really really want to go on this trip, but I also don’t want to set myself up for disaster. We don’t go often enough to not go full speed all morning and getting on rides early for short lines will also be key for squirmy children who also can’t eat in line anymore.

Honestly I have these same questions for my DS3-almost-4 and our trip is in 2 weeks. We are from MN where kids under 5 don’t have to wear masks so he doesn’t at preschool, I rarely take him anywhere, and he doesn’t last very long anywhere we do have to have masks. My worst case scenario is that I will just hide him in the middle of our group while waiting in line etc. so he can compose himself and take a breather. We are going with my best friend and her family so there are enough of us to make a buffer from other groups.

I have to believe enough parents of littles are in the same boat that we all give each other a little grace, same as you would if a child was having a meltdown or a baby is crying on a plane etc. It is still so surreal to me that these are the realities we have to plan for, we are all (kiddos included) just doing our best.

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I don’t have littles, but if I did I would first let them pick the masks. That way they might be excited about it. I also would make a game of it. Can you wear the entire time Paw Patrol is on? There was a trip report that might be helpful:

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Kids are way way way more adaptable than adults. They’re used to adhering to what may seem like arbitrary rules (to them) without understanding why :slight_smile:

I’d practice and explain it (even if his expressive language isn’t well developed, his receptive will be more advanced). You probably don’t need to practice until it gets a lot closer, and definitely have him pick the mask. Practice doing fun things masked - we can go to the playground today if you wear your mask properly the whole time! Stuff like that.

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Thank you. I haven’t kept up with trip reports lately, but I’ll check this one out!

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My kids weren’t too fond of masks at first. They’re older (7 and 5 at the time) so I don’t know if this is helpful, but here’s how we got used to them.

This is probably obvious, but get a bunch of masks to see what he finds the most comfortable. (Which doesn’t mean that any will feel great straight away, but he’ll probably have some preferences.) Both my kids refused to wear the masks that I had guessed would work well. It took some trial and error to figure out what they like.

We went somewhere they enjoyed and planned to wear the mask for a certain amount of time before a break. They were warned that if they left off the mask when it wasn’t break time, we’d have to go home. If they were really having a hard time, I bumped up the break to encourage success / positive reinforcement. Also, it wasn’t an immediate “you took your mask off, go to the car!” kind of thing. Moreso “it’s not quite time for a break yet - almost, but not yet. Can you put your mask on so that we can stay?” scenario.

As they got better, the time between breaks got longer. Now they forget they even have the mask on sometimes and occasionally choose to leave the mask on even when they don’t need to (ex. in the car.)

I hope that helps! Good luck.

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I think my biggest concern is the ‘no grace, line in the sand’ behavior that has been displayed by airlines with 2-4 year olds over the last few months. We’re not flying, fortunately, but I’m still worried that CMs will be more strict. I am happy to take my child to a relaxation station or distance and drink water. I am not happy to be kicked out of the park because my 2 year old won’t wear a mask.

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These are good concrete tips. Thanks! I think they’ll be helpful.

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Traveling with a two year old in a few weeks and also bracing for this. He doesn’t wear one often (he’s not in school) but we are in a state where they are widely worn and enforced everywhere, so we’ve had lots of chances to practice. I’d echo all of beth33’s tips. Also, I’ve noticed he does WAY better wearing it when there are distractions (and what better distraction than Disney World!). Taking it off and putting it back on is when we get the most pushback, so maybe be ready for that after breaks. We taught him that it has to cover his nose and he cutely takes that very seriously. I echo everyone that kids do seem to adapt quickly. We’ve also enlisted his big sister-she wears one for school and takes pride in helping show him it’s ok. Good luck!!

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It’s quite a different situation because airplanes are enclosed spaces and there is really nowhere to go for a “break”. If a child won’t keep a mask on getting ready for the plane to depart, the airline needs to assume they’ll be non-cooperative for the whole flight.

You’ve gotten done great suggestions above. I think practicing will be key. Friends who are lower grade teachers said it was easy to see at back time school which kids were used to mask wearing and which weren’t.

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One thing I noticed on our August trip was many more small child meltdowns than you’d expect. And in happy situations. These weren’t tired and/or hot and/or cranky meltdowns. These had an autistic-kid-struggling tone to them. You expect a certain number of meltdowns at a park. But these were notably more frequent than that. Note, no one got the stink-eye and everyone was given grace by everyone around (as far as I could tell). But, it wasn’t until I thought, “Autism isn’t THAT prevalent.” and then thought about it, that I realized it was the combo of masks and a very new situation. The kids weren’t getting facial cues from their people on what to feel. They knew that the energy was high but they couldn’t see the smiles.
I mention this so that you can frequently communicate with voice etc. that you are happy.

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Thanks for the link!

I’ll pipe in: DS2 did shockingly well with the mask until day 7 or 8 of our trip. I would’ve ended the trip at 6 or 7 days had I known it would go that way. Of course he had meltdowns in the middle of the park where he just tore his mask off and cried, but no one approached us at all during those times. I always pulled him off to the side and helped him to calm down during those times- usually with a snack. So we were quickly within the rules once he calmed down enough to start munching.

You’ll have a great time :heart: Worse case scenario, like you said, you can just take turns with him in a relaxation station.

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This is so perceptive. I think that the “no facial cues” effect for kids is compounded by the fact that, even as an adult, I feel myself different socially when wearing a mask, like I emote differently which now that you say that I’m sure my kids pick up on it. There is an almost evolutionary aspect to it, not being able to see others faces. Not sure if others feel the same way. I will be so glad when this is all over.

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To lighten up a bit from my last comments:

I think a variety of masks helps, and keeping several types on you at all times since #toddlersgonnatoddler. I went on Amazon and bought a variety pack of throwaway child masks and my son does like picking out which one he wears (so far tie dye and blue are faves). Sometimes he likes the fabric masks better (Target has some child masks that run very small so are great for toddlers, with Batman etc in a shinier athletic fabric), sometimes the homemade Disney ones we got on Etsy. Variety is key for us since the sensory aspect of masks are so fickle for young kids.

I have tried a mask chain/lanyard (bought a pack of stretchy cheap ones on Amazon) to prevent losing a mask as he was one to throw a pacifier clear across the planet when he was little and I didn’t yet know that pacifier tethers existed (thank you to everyone at MNSSHP 2018 who helped retrieve the binky of a sweaty toddler dressed like Vampirina’s dad)… he is not a big fan of the feeling of a necklace attached to his mask, but mentioning as in theory it would help and maybe your little one won’t mind?

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Most others have said the key things - find a mask he likes style-wise, and if possible character or design. Practice - small amounts of time at first, in the house, and have EVERYONE wear them during practice sessions. If the kiddo is the only one in a mask, they’re going to wonder why. Gradually increase the time wearing it. Even if it’s not required, have kiddo wear it when you’re out to get used to it.

The biggest thing is BE POSITIVE about it. Kids pick up on your vibes. If you’re approaching it as “I know you’re not going to like this, but…” pretty much a guarantee that the kiddo isn’t going to like it. If they think you want them to react a certain way, they’re probably going to react that way. (I’ve seen it on the cruise line - kiddo is running all over the atrium, cartwheeling and having a grand old time, mom repeatedly asks if kiddo feels ok up to and including “You don’t feel like you’re going to be sick? Are you sure? The boat is moving. You’re sure you don’t feel sick?” at which point the kid tilted their head, thought for a full minute, and said “I guess maybe a little?” and then mom visibly sighed with relief as she said “I knew you would get sea sick. It may be our first cruise, but I knew it.” I can guarantee based on activity and demeanor that kiddo was feeling just fine until mom planted the sea sick idea in their head.)

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All the suggestions I have seen are good. I would also by a few masks he could play with and put on stuffies or dolls. Kids learn from pretend play and if masks are incorporated, it may seem more “normal”.

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Lots of good tips here. My son is 2.5 and doesn’t love to wear his mask much at all. I allow him the option when/where it’s allowed (his daycare, outdoor playgrounds). But we’ve done a couple trips recently to the zoo and an aquarium. And I was very direct with him: in order to be at the zoo, we all need to wear a mask, okay?! If we can’t leave our mask on, then we can’t stay.

And he did brilliantly! He gets the concept - and I ensured we had a break for a snack every two hours or so so he could take it off.

I brought DD4 to WDW back in October and DS was only 1 then so he didn’t have to wear it. There was one time when DD had just finished her snack and hand’t pulled her mask up yet and a CM came over and just gently reminded us it needed to go on and then she walked away. With the rule now being that you just need to be stationary for a snack (and courteous about your distancing), I’d just have a water bottle and snacks readily available when you’re sensing a break is necessary.

I’d also start telling him ahead of time that he’s going to need to wear his mask to go to Disney. I told my DS that back in January when we booked our next trip and when we went to the zoo and I told him he had to wear it he said, “just like when we go to Disney.”

I think we as parents stress out more about it than our kids. Someone above said that kids are used to following rules they don’t fully understand! You’ll do/be fine!

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@jwohrle Yes, I think the distraction element will be key! And rides are a big incentive to keep it on.

@amvanhoose You are totally right. I am glad that Disney has several break options and definitely understand how that doesn’t work on an airplane.

@shawthorne44 That is so insightful. Thank you for sharing.

@Broph1988 I am so glad to hear your experience and that CMs were gracious with meltdowns. I look forward to reading through your trip report soon!

@WildernessLodger I’ve noticed that as well. Some days I ignore others more instead of making eye contact and smiling. :frowning:

@eeeevah Thanks for sharing your experience! I kind of want to split my park days, but I also know that it would be incredibly confusing for DS2 to have a brand new rule on the last park day. Maybe it’s best to go all in and just prep for it now.

DH wants to wait until June at the earliest to commit to the trip. Maybe something will change before then.

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Only two thing that I will add. Look at the material that the mask is made. Some material is really thick and makes it harder to breath and is hot. Also look at how wide (chin to nose) is the mask. It just has to cover your nose not be in your eyes. I like the ones for kids that have the chin pocket that keep them from riding up in their eyes. I also like the ones that are straight across at the top. The ones that are scooping across the nose bridge and under the eyes tend to bother me.

I got my mask at Target. They are two ply cloth mask that are light weight. They have a good chin pocket. I then wear them upside down so the big chin pocket is around my nose so I have more breathing area. I have to wear mind at work each day from 8-10 hours and have not problem with breathing.

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It’s funny - I’m exactly the opposite. The ones that go straight across don’t feel like they fit the shape of my face well and bother me. I really prefer the ones that are shaped to go well under the eyes. Too bad you don’t live close by, I could give you the ones I bought early on and haven’t used since :slightly_smiling_face:

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