8 tips for helping kids wear face masks

a few months ago, Lucy would cry and get scared when she saw someone wearing a mask. getting her to wear one felt impossible. but here she is — rocking her mask the entire trip without complaining. so proud of her! 🥳 for the longest time, I  thought we would never be able to convince her to wear a mask, but she has really adapted so well to the pandemic and this strange year. we still don’t take her inside a lot of places, but she knows that when we are inside or around people in a public place, she needs to do her best to wear her mask.

I wanted to share a few tips for helping your kids wear a face mask and things we did to help Lucy understand and feel comfortable wearing one!

 

1. START SMALL. Try having your child wear a mask during a short period (like a quick 5 minute errand) so they can get the hang of it before doing a full grocery shopping trip.

2. ACKNOWLEDGE CHILD’S FEELINGS and that wearing a mask is new and strange. I often remind Lucy that “I know that wearing masks can feel weird. We can do hard things!” Acknowledge disappointment and frustration too.

3. HAVE OPEN, HONEST CONVERSATIONS about masks with direct, simple language. For example, “we wear a mask to protect others from getting sick.” Pose mask wearing as a a statement (“we wear masks inside of stores”), not a question (“will you wear a mask for me right now?”)

4. NORMALIZE WEARING A MASK and model behavior (putting on before going somewhere, on correctly over the nose, etc.) Don’t complain about masks in front of kids, as children pick up on behaviors from parents.

5. LET YOUR CHILD PICK OUT MASKS! Special characters, colors, etc. I’ve found when Lucy LIKES the mask, she’s more willing to actually wear it.

6. READ BOOKS AND WATCH SHOWS about masks (both Sesame Street and Daniel Tiger have episodes about COVID/masks). @autismlittlelearners and @teacherspayteachers has great online resources too.

7. ROLE PLAY with masks. Practice putting masks on stuffed animals and dolls and make a game out of it.

8. INCENTIVIZE. We will often let Lucy pick out a small treat after wearing a mask while at the farmer’s market or somewhere where she wears a mask for longer than ~10 minutes.

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