By Samantha Congdon, LMFT
As businesses start to reopen and quarantine begins to be lifted, it is important to still take the proper precautions regarding your health and the health of others around you. Wearing a mask is still an important way of helping slow the spread of the virus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends kids two years old and older wear a mask to protect them from COVID-19. For kids, wearing a mask is something they are not used to, it may seem strange or even a little scary. It is important to help children understand why wearing a mask is essential during the pandemic.
At a young age, we rely on facial expressions to help us understand and navigate the world. When someone wears a mask, it hides certain parts of a person’s face, which makes it challenging for a child to read the situation. Kids can’t see the friendly smile or familiar look that usually puts them at ease,” (kidshealth.org). So, how do you convince a child to wear a mask? WTop News states, “Normalize it, and reassure them that even though it’s different than what they’re normally doing, that it’s not scary,” said Dr. Adrienne Collier, chief of pediatrics for Kaiser Permanente. A way to help normalize wearing a mask is to practice wearing your mask at home. Parents can wear their masks with their children while they play games. Kids Health suggest adding in some fun to help normalize wearing a mask, by pretending to be masked superheroes, decorate your mask and/or putting masks on your child’s stuffed animals.
Your children may have questions about why they are wearing these masks. It is ok to let your children know that we are wearing masks to protect themselves and others from spreading germs. Kids Health shares some tips on talking about the topic of masks and germs. First, steer clear of using the scary language of frightening images. Second, give your child time to look, process, and asks questions about germs and masks. Third, ask your child if they have any questions, even if you have already talked about it. Life looks a little different these days. Take each day as it comes, teach, and model the importance of wearing a mask.
Helping Kids Get Used To Seeing and Wearing Masks. May 21, 2020. Nationwide Childrens. April 2020. Kids Health. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2020/05/helping-kids-get-used-to-seeing-and-wearing-masks
King, K. How To Help Kids Understand The Importance of Wearing Masks in Public. April 22, 2020. Wtopnews. https://wtop.com/coronavirus/2020/04/tips-for-parents-to-convince-kids-to-wear-coronavirus-masks-for-protection/
Teagle, J. L. Coronavirus (COVID-19): Helping Kids Get Used to Masks. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/coronavirus-masks.html
Worth, F. Tips To Help Young Kids Wear Masks. April 8, 2020. Cook Children’s Checkup Newsroom. https://www.checkupnewsroom.com/all-children-should-wear-cloth-masks-unless-they-are-younger-than-2-years-old/