How to get your kids to wear face masks

“How do I get my child to wear a face mask?” is one of the most common questions moms are asking, and rightly so. With the return of schools and trips outside the home becoming more common, kids over the age of three are having to wear face masks, often reluctantly. Uzwelo Bags, who make adults and kids’ face masks, have these great guidelines for encouraging your kids to wear their face masks.

Getting a face mask on your child is the easy part – getting them to actually keep it on, and wear it correctly and safely, is where the challenge lies. 

How to get your child to wear a face mask

A lot of parents don’t realise that children have an enormous capacity for the truth, so long as it’s explained in an appropriate way. So speak to your children about the coronavirus pandemic, and general health and hygiene, as often as possible, within an age-appropriate manner. There are a number of ways that you can make your child feel more comfortable about wearing a face mask, including:

  • Be honest (but don’t scare them)

Explain to them that wearing a mask helps keep the people around them safe. Resist the urge to dramatise the situation or to share more information than is necessary. Instead, use the concept of wearing a mask as an opportunity to teach them altruism and empathy.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Here’s how to teach kids to wash their hands properly

How to get your children to wear face masks

  • Make it the norm

Leave face masks around the house so they become an everyday item that your children see regularly – and encourage them to practise putting their mask on and taking it off. If you’re going out, make sure your kids see you putting your mask on – kids are natural copycats and love to do what mommy and daddy do. And wear your mask properly (yes, those of you who pull your mask down below your nose, we’re looking at you). If you don’t, then how can you expect them to wear their properly?

  • Encourage creativity

Let your little ones choose a mask in a design or pattern they like, or help them create their own face mask using a plain mask or fabric, and some fabric pens. That way they can draw or sketch designs they want to show off to the world, and you have a craft project to keep them busy.

  • Make a mask for a buddy

Some children may be more likely wear a mask if their favourite teddy or doll has one too. Make a mask for their toy and let your child bring their ‘friend’ along when you go out so long as both of them are wearing masks. 

  • Do a trial run

Wearing a mask is a new experience for most children and they’ll likely complain the first few times they wear it (just like you did!). Get them to start out by wearing a mask for a few minutes, building up to 30 minutes at a time. Let them tell you how it feels to wear the mask, and listen so that you can make the necessary adjustments to make sure it fits them comfortably. 

ALSO READ: Here’s how to assess your risk of contracting the Coronavirus

At what age should a child start wearing a face mask in South Africa?:

  • The WHO suggests children between the ages of 3 and 5 don’t have to wear masks, but should be encouraged to do so.
  • It is not advisable for kids under the age of 2 to wear masks. This is primarily because their respiratory system is not fully developed and may cause breathing problems. Some older children with underlying conditions or developmental delays may still not be suited to wearing a face mask. Please consult your doctor or paediatrician for advice.
  • Masks are intended for the prevention of the spread of disease rather than as a prevention against contraction of disease. All other protection measures against COVID- 19 remain still essential.
  • Wash your masks daily.
  • Wash your hands before putting your mask on.
  • Don’t touch your mask while in use.
  • Wash your hands before and after removing your mask.
View our articles, competitions and promotions on BabyYumYum for all things parenting. SA's #1 Parenting Portal.