Children and Masks – getting your child comfortable

Getting your child used to the idea of wearing a mask can be a challenge. So we’ve come up with some useful tips to help support your family:

  • Explain why it is important to wear a mask. Explain germs and why we need to use masks in simple language that they can understand. An example phrase to share with your child could be, “Germs can go from our body to someone else’s body when we cough, sneeze, spit, or breath too close to someone else.”Explain that face mask-wearing is a rule right now. For example, “It’s a rule to wear shoes outside and for now, it’s a rule to wear a face mask when we go out around a lot of people.”
  • Help normalise the experience. Put your mask on first, this will show your child it is safe to wear a mask.. Give them some choices, does your child want to put it on or does your child want help? Support your child to put on their mask if they need help. If your child is struggling, organise times for them to have a chance to take off their mask somewhere safe to take a break. Remind them that everyone is doing what they can to help each other.
  • Make it fun! Decorate the mask and let your children have some fun making personalising. Let your child choose some stickers or make colourful masks with repurposed material. If the mask is uncomfortable, you can adjust with ribbons or buttons.
  • Play games with masks. Let your child put a mask on a favourite stuffed animal.
  • Play peek-a-boo or pretend doctor! Family members can validate their children’s emotions and normalise them by sharing, “It’s frustrating that we have to wear masks,” or “I’m sad too that we have to do this.” Let your child know that even when their mouth is covered, their eyes still show, and people will be able to recognise them. You can further validate their emotions by sharing, “People can look at your eyes to know how you may be feeling – happy, sad, confused, or worried.” To boost their spirits, you can show your child pictures of other children or superheroes wearing masks. 
  • In our work with children, we are supporting them to integrate their new world of social distancing, home-schooling, focus on hygiene, lack of contact with their friends and family and mask-wearing. We wear face shields and offer masks in our playroom for children to practice with on the toys.
Christine Harkin
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