With the 2020 school year starting virtually, you might think your kids don’t need to worry about masks. But if you intend to get them to after-school activities, pod schooling with other families, fall sports, or going anywhere in the community, you should prepare them for wearing masks.
School children have long been trained to cough and sneeze in the crook of their elbow to avoid spreading their germs to others. This is the same reason why wearing a mask during this time of COVID-19 is so important. The CDC states, “face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.” As children return to group activities, wearing a mask will be required.
So, how can we make sure that every child is wearing their mask properly? The answer starts at home: Get your kids used to wearing a mask now and start gradually. Here are a few ideas to get your kids comfortable with what will be a school standard for the foreseeable future.
Find a mask that is in a pattern or print that your children like, fits their face properly, and is made with a comfortable and breathable fabric. There are different styles—like ones with ear loops or ones that tie around the head and back of the neck. Let your child try on different options to see which one fits best. Also, be aware that if a particular hairstyle (like a ponytail) is the only way the mask stays on properly (or gets in the way of a mask), you should find another mask to wear.
It’s good to have several sets of masks so that you can launder them frequently and wash the mask before wearing it. An unpleasant odor from the fabric is a surefire way to make your kid want to take the mask off. Speaking of odors, this can be a great motivator to help your kids practice extra good dental hygiene because the better they brush their teeth, the less risk there is for them to smell their own bad breath after wearing a mask for a prolonged period.
To get the kids comfortable with wearing a mask for extended periods of time, start slowly. Have them wear a mask while watching a movie or playing a video game. This will help keep their attention on something fun while also getting used to the feel of the mask covering their nose and mouth. Have them wear it for 30 minutes and then the next day, bump it up to 35 minutes.
If you have young kids who are frightened by masks, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids: “look in the mirror with the face coverings on and talk about it; put a cloth face covering on a favorite stuffed animal; and Decorate them so they’re more personalized and fun.”
Wear it Right
Finally, teach your kids how to get the mask on and off quickly and easily. Tell them it’s okay to scratch that itchy or tickly nose but to wash their hands after. And set a good example by wearing your own mask while they’re getting used to wearing theirs.
—Claire Daugherty Kovacs
Looking for masks? Try these local sellers.
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