“You can’t make me wear a mask!”

Oppositional behavior in children AND adults

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I don’t want anyone else to have to go through testing and waiting and worrying, especially if me wearing a mask can help.

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I get it. If a mask triggers you, please do what helps you stay safe and whole. You are not an anti-masker.

But then there is the “You can’t make me” crowd. That’s different.

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Yet many children who are labeled “oppositional” do not necessarily meet the criteria for a diagnosis. This child may be reaching for a sort of order or control in a situation that feels chaotic to them.

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When we grow up in chaos, we seek control.

When we grow up with no rules, we get angry at rules.

Yet our political system and the way we relate to each other is not a game. Our ability to function as a society is life or death … and right now, there is a lot of death.

Oppositional behavior reveals the broken system.

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When the adults/authorities we’ve known are unreliable, we have a hard time trusting any adult or authority.

We currently have a cadre of adults who do not trust what any authority says … even if that authority has a degree in epidemiology and decades of experience.

Photo by Shoeib Abolhassani on Unsplash

So how do we work with oppositional children/adults?

All of this is with the goal of creating a more stable system for those who have a history of instability or are currently experiencing instability.

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“I care about you and the people that I see; so that’s why I’m wearing this mask.”

clinical social worker, spiritual director, author, husband, father, son, runner in Georgia, co-author of When Anxiety Strikes from Kregel Publications.

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