We’re all getting used to wearing face masks, but for kids, it’s a little more challenging. They tug at them, refuse to put them on, and yank them below their noses, just because they can. But the CDC recommends all kids over two wear face coverings, so it’s time to get the kids on board. How do we do that? These strategies recommended by doctors, psychologists and parents may help.
- Know your child - All kids are different, so parents should take the time to think about how their children may relate to face coverings. Before you come up with a strategy to help them become mask-wearers, consider their age, developmental needs, how much they’re aware of the outside world, and if a mask may give them anxiety.
- Explain what's up - Use words and ideas kids can understand to help them know why they need to wear a face covering. For preschoolers, think in terms of a “Sesame Street” version of an explanation of the pandemic, for older kids, you can get into more details about public health and emphasize kindness. It may help to tell them that if we all wear face masks, we protect each other.
- Engage and involve your children - Making kids part of the process can get them excited about wearing face coverings. This can be as simple as letting them pick out their own mask or as involved as letting them sew one for themselves.
- Practice, practice, practice - Now comes the tough part … actually getting kids to wear the masks and wear them in the right way. Try having them wear their mask in the house to get more comfortable with it, having them check themselves out in the mirror with a mask on, or making a mask for their favorite doll or stuffed animal so they can play with them and make it part of their normal routine.
- Communicate repeatedly - As much as you don’t want to nag, this is one time where you may have to sound like a broken record to get your kids to take wearing a mask seriously. Consistency is key, so keep reminding them that they can’t go out in the world right now without a mask to protect themselves and everyone else. Little by little they’ll get it and you won’t have to nag as much, at least about the mask.