During the past few months, wearing masks to promote health and safety as we go out and about has become a much more common practice. Some childcare centers, schools, and camps are recommending or requiring staff and students to wear masks throughout the day.
For many children, seeing others wearing masks can feel strange. Initially, it may be unsettling for children to interact with familiar adults or friends with their faces covered. And some children might find it challenging or uncomfortable to keep a mask on themselves.
Parents and caregivers can work with their children to help them acclimate to seeing others wearing masks. Also, they can help their children get used to wearing masks themselves. Use the tips below to talk with your child about the importance of wearing masks and to make wearing a mask seem more routine.
Partner with your Child
Talk with your child about why it is important to wear a mask. Explain that wearing a mask is a way to care for others. Share that wearing masks helps us to keep our germs to ourselves.
Invite your child to help pick out their mask color and design. Children feel empowered when they are given choices. Therefore, they are more likely to wear a mask they choose.
When you talk about wearing masks, be sure to focus on the positives. Compliment your child for any amount of time they wear a mask. Share that they are helping to keep others safe. When you see others wearing a mask, talk with your child about how those people are helping to keep others safe, too.
Practice Wearing a Mask
Model wearing a mask. As you are out and about, talk about how to wear masks. You might mention that it is important for a mask to cover your mouth and nose. Talk about when to wear masks. You might mention that it is important to wear masks when you are near others outside of your household.
Have your child practice wearing a mask in low-stress situations. This helps children to get used to the feeling of wearing a mask. You might wear masks while riding in the car or while playing at home. This practice helps to build your child’s mask-wearing stamina.
Find New Ways to Connect with Others
When people wear masks, you can no longer see their smiles. Talk with your child about other ways to connect. You might suggest focusing on their bright eyes. When your child sees family members, teachers, or close friends wearing masks, emphasize to your child that the people behind the masks are the same kind, caring, and loving people.
Similarly, when your child wears a mask, others are unable to see their full expressions. You might talk with them about ways they can show they are happy or say hello to others. Practice together giving a thumbs up, a wave, or a wink.