Is your child over the age of two and resistant to wearing a mask or face covering? Here’s how to instill this essential habit as the school year approaches.After some initial confusion and mixed messaging, a consensus has formed: masks reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and are recommended for use by the general public (and, in many locales, are still legally required in many situations). Several studies indicate that face coverings substantially reduce the number of droplets emitted into the air when sneezing, coughing, talking, or exhaling, and that the COVID-19 growth rate is markedly slower in states and countries with mask mandates.Since May 6, Massachusetts has been one of those states. A statewide order called “Mask up, Massachusetts!” mandates face coverings in both indoor and outdoor public spaces where social distancing is not possible.This summer, for many families, the mask mandate has meant donning masks for quick trips to the grocery store or pharmacy. But as some Massachusetts school districts prepare for fall reopenings, children will soon be expected to wear masks far more often, and it’s increasingly important that they do so properly. If your child has shown reluctance to wear a mask or isn’t accustomed to wearing one for long periods of time, here are some tips for encouraging them to do so:
Help Your Child Understand How and Why to Wear a Mask
While wearing a mask can be slightly uncomfortable and unfamiliar, most children will be much more willing to do so if they understand why it’s important. To make your child feel good about wearing a mask, frame it as an exciting opportunity to help others, not as a burdensome requirement. Tell your child that masks help keep everyone around them safe, and that wearing a mask is a kind and even heroic thing to do. If your child is young enough, consider comparing wearing a mask to being a superhero — superheroes wear masks, too, after all!Of course, masks aren’t effective if your child doesn’t wear them properly. Ensure that, once your child understands the why of mask-wearing, they understand the how, as well. Teach them to wear it snugly over both the nose and mouth, to take it off only via the ear loops or ties, to wash their hands before and after touching their mask, and to avoid touching the mask once it’s on. You should also ensure your child knows never to share their mask.
Take Steps at Home to Normalize Masks
Even if your child knows the importance of wearing a mask, they may still balk at the idea of wearing one for many hours at a time. You can help combat this in two ways: by making mask-wearing fun and by helping your child grow accustomed to wearing a mask for long periods of time.To make wearing a mask a fun activity, allow your child to pick out a few reusable cloth masks that they like and that show off their personality. Meanwhile, model good mask-wearing behavior yourself; consistently wear a face covering in public without visibly complaining or grumbling. You may also wish to put a mask on your child’s favorite stuffed animal or doll to show that “even Teddy is wearing his mask.”To help your child grow more accustomed to wearing a mask, have them practice wearing one for small increments of time, adding more time as they become used to it. Consider trading “mask practice time” for fun rewards; thirty minutes of mask-wearing equals thirty minutes of screen time, for example. In the weeks leading up to the start of the school year, try to get your child to wear a mask for several hours — or even a full day — at least once in order to ensure they’re prepared for school.
A Partner in Your Child’s Health
For more guidance on helping your child stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, reach out to Kids’ Health. A leading pediatric clinic in the Beverly, Massachusetts, area, we understand that this is a frightening and confusing time for many families, and we’re here to help you and your child navigate it safely. We’re available for both virtual and in-person visits — contact us today to make an appointment....
Request a Consultation
About Kids’ Health
Kids’ Health is a family-centric, independently-owned pediatric practice in Beverly, MA. We are committed to helping your child reach their best physically, emotionally, and academically, and combine personal service with modern technology to keep our patients healthy and happy.
900 Cummings Center
Suite 113 – T
Beverly, MA 01915