There’s a lot of uncertainty about schools reopening this fall, but one thing we know? Many schools will require kids to wear masks if they reopen for in-person learning. Even if your child is used to putting one on to run into the store, they’re not used to wearing a mask for many hours a day. So child development experts offer these tips for parents to do now to help get their kiddos ready.
- Get the right fit – You may need to try several options before you find the right one for your child. For kids with sensory issues, Board Certified Behavior Analyst Danielle LoVecchio suggests rubbing the material on their hands, then their face, to get them used to the texture before making them wear the mask on their face.
- Set clear expectations – Early childhood expert Megan Elizabeth Sedlacek says “predictability and consistency creates a sense of security.” She advises sitting kids down and helping them understand the expectations around wearing a mask at school.
- Model what you want your kids to imitate – Wearing your mask frequently around your child and arranging socially distant playdates where the kids practice wearing masks can help them get used to it.
- Make it fun – These experts recommend letting kids help pick out their own masks so they’re more motivated to wear them, letting them decorate their masks, creating masks for their favorite dolls or stuffed animals, and letting kids take selfies with fun filters to make mask-wearing more enjoyable.
- Start small and stay positive – Try having the kids wear their mask for short periods of time, like one to three minutes, 10 times a day, LoVecchio advises. Then slowly increase the time they keep it on as they get more used to it. She also recommends pairing mask wearing with positive activities, like watching TV or using an iPad, and recognizing the small steps they’re taking by praising them.
- The bottom line – Pediatrician Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez reminds us that kids take cues from their friends and teachers. So when they get to school and see everyone else wearing masks, they may be more likely to keep theirs on. Patience is key, so start early and stick with it and they’ll get used to it over time.
Source: ABC News