We are living in a time that is new and uncertain for everyone. Wearing a mask has become a mandatory part of daily life. The CDC recommends masks for anyone 2 years and older in places where you cannot social distance. To be effective, masks should cover your child’s mouth and nose. You can purchase masks or make your own masks with these instructions from the CDC. make masks >>
Here are 3 ways you can support your child in this new environment.
Talk to them! Let your children know that they can be helpers in slowing down the spread of germs and viruses. Explain how to wear a mask — keeping it over both their mouth and nose — so they use them properly. Children of all ages love to be helpers, and it’s a great way to build social emotional skills as well as building empathy..
Give Choices. Anyone with a toddler knows that they love to make decisions! Letting them choose their mask not only gives them some control and security but also builds confidence and verbal skills. Let your kiddos choose the masks they like best. Make it feel important – it’s a great way to let them express their creativity anytime they are getting ready to leave the house. There are many online ordering options, including masks that your children can decorate!
Make it fun! Pretend play is something children of all ages can enjoy. Encouraging your children to practice mask wearing as part of pretend play will help them feel comfortable wearing a mask. Pretend play might include being a superhero protecting their community, and dolls and stuffed animals can also play along with their own masks.
Some children may refuse to wear a mask.
Incentives and rewards might help – you can use charts or calendars with stickers marking days they wore a mask and reward accordingly. It may be as simple as creating a “special mask reward time” after your child complies with mask wearing. You could snuggle together and read their favorite book or any other activity they enjoy.
If you’d like to brainstorm more ideas, or talk through challenges, please contact our free Parent Coaching service, the Family Helpline. 1-800-932-4673 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When your children choose to engage in an activity like wearing a mask – something that is good for them, for their family, and their community – they become more invested in the activity and build the value of togetherness.