What an unprecedented time we are living in. The CDC currently recommends wearing a cloth face covering when leaving your home, regardless of whether you have fever or symptoms of COVID-19.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
For some kids, the idea of wearing a mask may seem strange or scary. We’ve prepared some tips and resources that might help you and your child have success wearing a face mask, if that is a goal for your family.
Help Normalize it
- Wear a mask yourself to model it to your kiddo
- Give them time to explore, look and ask questions about their mask
- Consider making mini face masks for their barbies, superheros, or other toys
- Role play with the mask by playing “doctor” at home
- Read a social story (like this one!) with your kids to help them understand. Here is a video version of that same story
- This website provides some helpful kid-friendly language about why people are wearing face masks
Play into their interests
- Consider purchasing or fabricating a mask with a fabric that has their favorite characters or sports team on it
- Are they into ninjas? Could you lean into this interest by fashioning a ninja-like face covering? Time to pull out the old Spiderman Halloween costume?
- Consider having your child help make a mask. There are a lot of tutorials available online for no-sew options from materials you may already have at home, such as this one
- You could also have your kiddo help decorate their mask using markers, patches or stickers
Masks are not typically comfortable. Work up to wearing it for longer periods of time if you are able
- You can start by having them wear it for the length of a song and work up to multiple songs in row
- If your child has anxiety, monitor them closely. While a fabric mask doesn’t block breathing, it can change the way your airflow feels. For some individuals, this can be anxiety provoking
- Consider having a visual timer for your kiddo to foreshadow how much longer they are expected to wear the mask
- If your child wears glasses, wearing a face mask can impair their vision from fogging on their lenses. Here are some tips to prevent fogging
- Do the straps behind the ears bother your kiddo? People have come up with some cool modifications so the straps don’t put pressure behind the ears like this:
Here is a video of how to make a face mask ear saver
By: Megan Wisniewski, MS, OTR/L