Life in 2020 has been a whirlwind and again we are having to adapt to our every changing world. As more research continues to come out from the CDC, wear are learning over and over again how important it is for everyone to wear their masks. However, as a mother of a preschooler, you know it can be next to impossible to get your child to wear anything they do not want to, let alone something that covers their face.
Why Do they Need a Mask?
Guidelines in your area have probably changed in the recent weeks, and you may find that a mask ordinance is in place. Even though many of these ordinances may not require masks for minors, many stores and other public places are requiring them for anyone over 2 years old. (Just a reminder that you should not put a mask on a child under 2 years old, as they can suffer from restricted air flow). I know that I have been limiting my child's interactions with people and limiting public outings, however sometimes it cannot be avoided. You may need to head into the doctor's office, or go to a restaurant and need them in the lobby area. Some parents do not have the option to leave their child at home while doing their grocery shopping, and wearing a mask is the safest way for their child to participate. It is simple, wearing a mask is the best plan.
Five Tips to Help them Wear the Mask
You probably realize that your child should have a mask and be willing to wear it if needed. However, that is easier said than done. Check out these five tips to help encourage your child to wear the mask if/ when it is needed:
- Start with a Chat: Hands down, the first thing you should do is be talking with your child about why they need to wear the mask. Explain to your child that there is a virus going around that can make people sick. I also told my children that they may not even feel sick with the virus and accidentally give it to someone else. Tell them that one of the best ways to help keep people safe is to wear a mask. Show them the mask and how it works. One way I found was to take a squirt bottle with water and spray it at the mask. Explain that the water is like when you sneeze and show them how the mask stops the water. Children thrive with knowledge.
- Choose the Best Mask for Your Child: Since your child should be in basic public places, most likely you simply need a cloth mask or basic paper masks. This means you can decide based on your child the best fit, style, and what might be important for your child. I ended up choosing a basic cloth mask that is light weight and easy to breath in. I have also heard that the paper masks are even easier to breath in, however reusability was important for me. Paper masks can also have an interesting smell, and my little one is pretty sensitive to smells. You might have better luck with a mask in a fun print or character, if that will motivate your child to wear it.
- Model the Behavior you Want to See: This is preschool parenting 101, but is extra important with something new and different for your child. If your child is expected to wear a mask, you need to also be wearing a mask. Not only does this show your child the best action, but will help keep your family safe. Also, make sure you are wearing a mask correctly, covering your nose and mouth, to model the correct behavior.
- Incorporate Masks into Play: This one may seem a bit strange, but start out with having your child wear the mask in play time. Let them explore the mask and see how it feels, how to take it on and off (it is important they can take it off on their own), and even let the check it out in the mirror to see how they look. Wear yours as well during this time to see how fun they look. You can even pull a few out and let them put them on their stuffed animals to help make it fun and exciting. Just imagine an adorable masked up tea party!
- Take a Trial Run: Some children will adjust to the mask without any problems and some will need some time to adjust to the idea. After you think your child is comfortable and will wear their mask for an extended time at home, it is time for a trial run. Pick a place that you are comfortable taking your child, explain that they need to wear their mask the entire time, help them understand to keep their hands off their masks, and give it a go. I recommend picking a place that you can leave if it is to stressful and your child is struggling. I would also recommend a place that it is easy to socially distance yourself if your child is unwilling.
It may seem a little crazy to have to go through these steps, but the better your child is at wearing their mask, the easier life will be if they need to wear them for a long haul. Many school districts are talking about having the children wear them in the fall, most public places are encouraging/ requiring them, and it makes me, as a parent, feel much safer if we all have them on. In less than two days, both my children are mask wearing pros. I feel better knowing we will be safe and doing our part to keep our city safe.
Gym and Learn Director