As we move into our new reality, and focus on ways to stay safe outside of our homes, it’s important that we work on making masks fun for kids! It is likely that if our children do resume any sort of normal activities, masks will be required. Here are some ways to get your children on board with wearing a mask:
1. Let your child pick the fabric/design
Children are more likely to wear something that they have picked out for themselves. This gives them a sense of independence and control. Now that masks are becoming commonplace due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are tons of options out there. If you aren’t able to find a preferred mask online, check local Facebook groups, the NextDoor app and other social platforms. There are so many members of our community that are making masks. We even came across a Little Free Library that had transformed into FREE masks for children!
2. Play doctor, dentist or veterinarian
While role-playing, talk to your child about why masks are so important. Take turns wearing a mask, modeling how to put it on, and keeping it on! You can even include your child’s favorite doll or stuffed animal. Be sure to use language that is appropriate for your child’s age.
3. Read social stories about masks
We are so thankful to those professionals who have taken the time to create social stories for all of our children to read! Here are a couple of our favorites:
4. Encourage your child to wear their mask at home so that they can get used to it
Masks can be uncomfortable. The elastic around the ears can be irritating and they certainly trap the heat! You will want to be sure that your child can wear their mask at home before trying it in public. Also, if your child has glasses, reassure them that their glasses may get a little foggy! You’ll want to remind your child to keep their glasses on to avoid touching their face. Sticker charts or a token reward system may be useful for children who are resistant to wearing a mask.
5. Read books about Coronavirus
Two publishers wrote books about Coronavirus and you can access them for free! “Coronavirus: A Book for Children” and “My Hero is You: How Kids Can Fight Covid-19.” There are also several book recommendations that may help ease some of your child’s concerns or anxieties. You can learn more about all of these books by clicking here.
6. Art projects.
f you have a child that is scared of or resistant to masks, it may be easier to start with a different kind of mask. Try making animal or silly monster masks together. You can talk about how some masks cover your eyes and nose while others cover your whole face. This may help ease your child into the concept of masks.
It is also helpful for parents to understand why wearing masks and seeing people with masks may be difficult for your child. When a person wears a mask, nonverbal communication gets lost. When you walk down the street and smile at a neighbor or a stranger, you are conveying that you are friendly and polite. When you wear a mask, you lose the smile and the feelings associated with that smile. Social smiles may not seem immensely important, however, during a time that provokes anxiety and uncertainties, those social smiles can go a long way. When you notice social smiles and other nonverbal cues are missing, it can be beneficial to talk to your child about these situations. It’s our job as parents to help our children understand what they cannot see. You can also do some role-playing to show how smiles are covered up by masks. Show and teach your child how to communicate other feelings through your eyes and eyebrows and point out these nonverbal cues while reading books. The more information your child has, the easier it will be for them to understand.
In addition, it’s going to be important for all of us to use more gestures to convey certain feelings and emotions. If you can’t exchange a social smile when walking down the street, wave or give a thumbs up instead! You can also choose to wear a mask that sends a positive message. Find a mask that has a smiley face, a fun pattern or your favorite team!
If you have questions about your child’s development, or if we can help in any way, schedule a free phone consultation with an experienced therapist or complete a short questionnaire about your child via the “get started” link below. Our team will match your child with a therapist based on their specific needs.
TherapyWorks provides speech, occupational and physical therapies via teletherapy (or in person in IL, OH and TN)