With a new school year quickly approaching, parents are realizing that masks will likely be part of their child’s dress code come fall. For parents of younger children, this can be a bit troubling. It’s hard enough to get a little one to keep their mask on during a trip to the grocery, much less an entire school day! Here are some useful hints from professionals about ways to help your children get used to wearing masks for extended periods of time.
Practice Makes Perfect
Research suggests that it’s helpful to expose young children early to the idea that masks are a normal part of everyday life. One way to do this is to have your child begin wearing their mask around the house. Another idea is to have masks for your child’s dolls or stuffed animals to wear.
As much as you can, offer children time to practice wearing their masks before they are required to wear one. Teach them how to put their mask on and take it off.
Don’t be afraid to take your child out on short errands. Even if it’s something you would normally avoid at all costs, having your children with you while you are out and about will help them get used to wearing a mask in public while also letting them see that everyone else is wearing one too!
Acknowledge Their Irritation
Kids fuss about all kinds of little things, from cleaning their rooms to eating their vegetables. It’s completely understandable that at times like these, parents are tempted to either lose their temper or give in to their child’s demands. However, when it comes to wearing face masks, it’s especially important for parents to be understanding but persistent.
Kids are more adaptable than we give them credit for. They learn quickly how they need to behave, as long as correct behaviors are taught and consistently reinforced. Validate your child’s feelings while also making your boundaries clear by saying something like: “I understand that wearing a mask causes you to get upset and makes you angry. I don’t like wearing one either, but we’re going to get through this. This isn't forever; it’s only for right now. Hopefully soon, we won’t need to wear these any longer, but to get to that point we all need to do our part and wear a mask."
The Superhero Methodology
Kids. Love. Superheroes. And superheroes wear masks. Use this fact to your advantage by turning mask-wearing into a fun game of pretend! When your child is not wearing their mask, they are simply themselves, but when they put their mask on, they transform into their favorite superhero! Keep the fun rolling right into the fall, and your little one will be looking forward to starting school as their new super alter-ego!
Practice What You Preach
Wearing a mask correctly in public is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for parents. Children learn so much from watching the behavior of their parents. If you are diligent in wearing a mask when out in public, it's very likely that your child will soon start following in your footsteps.