Going back to school is going to look a lot different this year. We’ve all had to add a few new things to our back to school shopping lists like hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes and of course cloth face masks. In Ohio, all children in grades K-12 are required to wear a cloth face covering. We can all help our kids get used to wearing masks at school and in public.
Here are some tips to help the children in your life wear their masks:
•Explain why it’s important. Be honest and put your explanation in terms they can understand. Share that wearing a mask is a way to stop germs from spreading, even if they don’t feel sick. For a younger child, try telling them they are just like their favorite superhero because by wearing their mask they help keep everyone safe. Remember wearing masks is new for all of us, no matter our age.
•Help them get used to masks. Give kids time to practice wearing their mask around the house before they need to wear it in public or at school. Teach them how to put them on and take them off properly. With a mask on both you and your child, look in a mirror and talk about them. Children should be reminded to wash their hands before and after wearing their mask and to avoid touching it once it’s on their face. Cloth masks should be washed each time after they are worn.
•Model the behavior. With Ohio’s statewide mask order, we should all be wearing masks in public. Kids will follow your example so show them when and how to wear a mask. It’s important to show empathy with them while still enforcing the action.
•Make them or pick them out together. If you’re making masks at home, let your child help you during the process. There are a lot of DIY, no-sew options out there that they can help with. If you are purchasing one, pick them out together. Help them find one with their favorite character, a fun print or style they like. Remember that a proper fit is key. The mask should securely cover their nose and mouth. You can also get ear savers or mask extenders that can help wearing a mask be more comfortable.
•Incorporate masks into everyday life. Have kids wear their masks while watching a movie or playing their favorite video game. You could also try having them wear them during certain times of the day, like after breakfast until lunch. For a younger child, have some fun by putting a mask on a stuffed animal and ask them why it’s wearing the mask. This will also give you a chance to clear up any confusion and offer reassurance.
•Tune into your child’s feelings about face masks. Ask how your child is feeling about the situation and listen to what your child says. Let them know that whatever their feelings are, it’s okay. It might reassure your child if you share your own feelings and let your child know what you’re doing to cope.
Source: CDC, Mount Nittany Health