Like a new pair of shoes, kids getting comfortable with a mask won’t happen overnight. Adults modeling correct mask behavior is a great start to getting kids comfortable wearing their own mask. Kids don’t need to know all the scary details surrounding COVID-19, but it is important that they are at least partly informed. If you don’t know how to start the conversation about mask-wearing, take a look at the tips below.
From coughing into your arm or covering your nose when you sneeze, kids are used to hearing about the polite thing to do to keep germs from spreading. They may already know that doctors and nurses wear masks, and depending on the age of the child, they might even understand that masks are another method used to help stop germs.
Most kids have heard the term “coronavirus” by now, even if he or she doesn’t understand what it is. Let your child know that the coronavirus makes some people really sick and that you are doing your part to help keep people healthy. Explain that that’s why we are physically distancing, washing our hands more often and wearing masks.
Wearing masks, along with the rest of the changes since COVID-19 entered our lives, can prove just as frustrating for kids as it does to adults. Encourage your kids to share their thoughts and feelings. Talking it out can help them feel better about the situation and make them more likely to wear a mask without a fight.
Encourage positive feelings about masks; don’t complain about them when a child could be in earshot. Bring up a web page of kids’ face masks for sale and let your child choose the mask or masks they want. Retailers like Green Supply offers kids’ KN95 masks with adjustable nose bridges and ear straps provide comfortable protection. Make your child a part of the process and less like an unwilling participant.
Mask wearing doesn’t need to be a power struggle. Give kids a reason to get interested enough in a mask to wear one without a fight. Compare mask-wearing to superheroes or other fictional characters your child loves. Liken a mask to Harry Potter’s wand, Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber or Thor’s hammer. A mask has its own kind of superpower.
Turn mask-wearing into a game so your child can feel as though they have some control, too. Let your child pick out the mask they want to wear each time you leave the house. Try to guess what mask your child will choose, don’t peek while your child chooses one. It’s a silly game that won’t take long, but it will be something your child will look forward to and, if you’re lucky, speed up the whole “leaving the house” process.
When it comes to getting your kid to wear a mask, simply explain why we wear them, let your child vent their frustrations and turn mask-wearing into a game. Compliment your child on how well they put on their mask. Share how wearing one during COVID-19 is but one more kind way to show we care about other people, and it’s not much different than saying “please” and “thank you.”