“You can’t make me wear a mask!”

Oppositional behavior in children AND adults

Jason B. Hobbs LCSW, M.Div
6 min readSep 3, 2020


Photo by De an Sun on Unsplash

So I’m wearing a mask in my office full-time at this point and have been for about a month. We had our own COVID19 scare in my family as the cases were climbing in my home state. Although the test itself was not exactly enjoyable, the wait from testing to results for me and my family member was worse.

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

That is how I think … but then there are others, the anti-maskers.

Photo by Andras Kovacs on Unsplash

Now mind you, I have some folks that cannot wear a mask because it triggers a panic attack. There are others who have experienced specific traumas that mean that they were held down, choked, or nearly suffocated or drowned. Even though rationally they know that they are getting enough oxygen and can breathe with a mask, the sensation of breathing their own warm breath or having something over their face is a trigger for flashbacks and re-experiencing the trauma again.

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.

Photo by Hunter Johnson on Unsplash

I should say at the outset that as a therapist who works with both children and adults, I love oppositional children. As I look back at my own childhood, I think I could be fairly oppositional at times.

Even now, I continue to question the conventional wisdom, to poke around a bit to see if there is an alternative answer or another option. I tend to think a bit differently than those around me and seem to always have.

Yet many children who are…



Jason B. Hobbs LCSW, M.Div

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