New Challenges continue to plague parents as the country continues to make adjustments with COVID-19. Parents are now dealing with how to help their child wear a mask, when some children may not fully be able to understand the health and safety aspect of wearing a mask.
Having children wear a mask while outside or at school can present some challenges. It is unlikely to have child wear and keep a mask on successfully outside of the home environment if the proper measures were not taken beforehand. Kids that have different learning abilities need to be taught things differently and require additional time to process.
Preparation is the key to success. Practice wearing a mask at home for a few minutes at a time and slowly increase your time with it. You can start off by wearing the mask for 1 min then 5mins and so on. This will help your child be prepared to wear a mask for a prolonged period of time when they are out. If your child will be returning to school and a mask is required, this will also help them understand the importance of wearing a mask.
If you have a child with sensory issues, it may be difficult for them to get used to a new fabric. Create a mask with a fabric that the child is already comfortable with if possible. If you are able to find a familiar pattern or character your child likes there are many individuals who are sewing masks using personalized items that you can locate online.
Use visuals to help explain to kids why they need to wear a mask. Stay away from over-explanation, if your child has processing issues or ADHD you will not keep their focus and attention for long and will lose your point. Using visual guides will help you to get your point across and communicate effectively. Do some online research to locate some infographics about wearing a mask.
Practice makes perfect, or in this case, practice brings familiarity. If your child is used to wearing a mask at home and when you go for a walk around your neighborhood they are more likely to succeed with doing so when required.
Lead by Example
As the parent practice wearing a mask at home when stepping outside or going for a short walk. Children do best with do-as-you-do and NOT as-you-say. To help your child understands why you are wearing a mask explain the safety reason and how wearing a mask helps with decreasing the spread of COVID. Allow your child to asks questions and answer truthfully as best as you can, and what you don’t know you guys can research together and learn more together.
Helping children become familiar with the expectations of wearing a mask is the best way to ensure success. The anxiety and uncertainties that COVID-19 has presented can be hard on a young developing brain, the more information and preparation you can provide as a parent the more likely you are able to provide comfort when things seem to be uncertain.