8 Ways to Help Kids Adjust to Wearing Face Masks

By 8/07/2020 03:43:00 PM ,

Are you battling with your child about wearing a face mask? Dr. Andrea White, pediatrician with UnityPoint Health, shares her advice, including eight ways to help your child adjust to wearing face masks.

"We need to normalize mask wearing – just like we do with other good habits. If we are consistent with our messages, kids will start to understand. This is true for all age groups – even the very youngest of kids." Dr. White says.

What Age of Kids Should Wear a Face Mask?

It’s important to remember younger children under the age of 2 shouldn’t wear a mask.

“It’s considered a strangulation and choking hazard for little ones. Besides that, any child can wear a mask and should be encouraged to do so in public places where social distancing (six feet apart) is not doable,” Dr. White says.

Talk to your doctor if your child has trouble breathing in a mask or is downright refusing to wear one. Your care team is also available to help if your child has developmental delays that may interfere with mask wearing. They can always help you figure out what’s right for your individual situation.

8 Ways to Help Your Child Adjust to Wearing a Face Mask:

  1. Be Consistent. Stick with a constant message around mask wearing and include gentle reminders about not touching the outside of the mask. Make sure it has a secure fit and always covers both the mouth and nose. 
  2. Explain Why. Even very young kids will understand masks are important to help keep everyone safe.  
  3. Personalize. Let your children pick out kid-friendly masks with characters and cool designs or encourage them to decorate their own with tie-dye or fabric markers.  
  4. Take a Picture. Snap a photo of your child in a mask and reinforce how awesome he/she looks. Try a family photo, or simply look in a mirror together. 
  5. Practice at Home. Get the whole family involved in practicing mask wearing for a day, or a few hours, to get the hang of it.  
  6. Use Masks in Play. For younger kids, put masks on stuffed animals or dolls during play time.  
  7. See Masks in Action. While it's still best to avoid public spaces as much as possible, consider taking your child out to a safe space where people are wearing masks to help normalize mask wearing.  
  8. Identify Good Behavior. Point out others who are doing a good job wearing masks.

Bonus Tip – Send Extra Masks
"There are endless scenarios where kids will gunk up masks, either by sneezing, coughing, dropping it on the bathroom floor, touching it with messy hands … the list goes on. The best option is to keep a supply of back-up masks on hand – so your child can have options in case of a messy emergency," Dr. White says.

For more UnityPoint Health tip and info, visit - www.unitypoint.org/news

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