“How do I get my child to wear a face mask?” is one of the most common question our moms are asking, and rightly so. With the return to school on the cards, and trips outside the home become more common, kids over 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.
The first step in getting a face mask on your child is fairly easy. However, getting them to wear it, and wear it correctly and safely, may be a real challenge.
The most important bit of advice we can give is to give as many facts around the coronavirus pandemic, and general health and hygiene, as possible, within an age-appropriate manner. Children have an enormous capacity for the truth, as long as it’s explained in the appropriate way.
There are a number of ways that you can make your child feel more comfortable about wearing a face mask, including:
Be honest (but not scary)
Regardless of your child’s age, be honest about why masks are important. You don’t have to go into a lot of detail, and you should keep it age-appropriate, but be open with your kids about the coronavirus.
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 needed. Instead, use the concept of wearing a mask as an opportunity to teach altruism and empathy.
Make it the norm
Where possible, leave face masks around the house so they become an item they see regularly. Encourage them to practise taking them on and off, and even wear them around the house to get them used to it.
Wear your mask around the house, put it on before leaving the house if you’re going out for a bit. Let them see that you are doing it, kids love to do what mommy or daddy does. If you go for a walk, wear your mask properly, none of this hanging around the neck stuff. If you can’t do it properly how do you expect them to?
Making their own and encourage creativity
Let your little ones choose a design or pattern they like, or help them create their own face mask.
If you’ve bought a face mask for your child, encourage them to get creative and make it their own. Let them draw or sketch some designs or drawings they want to show off to the world.
Make a mask for a buddy
Some children may more likely wear a mask if their favourite teddy or Barbie has one too. Make a mask for it and let your child take their ‘friend’ out with them when you go out as long as the ‘friend’ is wearing one too.
Do a trial run
Wearing a mask is a new experience for most children. They more than likely will complain the first few times they wear it (just like you did!).
Try the mask at home first for a few minutes at a time, build up to 30 minutes. Then talk to your child and understand how it feels for them to wear it. If you need to, make adjustments to the mask to ensure it fits them comfortably and properly.
Play a game
Face masks can be a bit scary-looking if you’re small (and big, for that matter), so maybe implementing a face mask in play at home will make it seem a bit less daunting. Promote your child to doctor or nurse of the house, and let them look after you (or maybe their favourite stuffed animal might be better?).
Important to note:
- It is not advisable for kids under the age of two 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