Staying home and physical distancing is the best way to protect your family from COVID-19. It’s especially important for younger children who may not understand why they can’t run up to other people or touch things they shouldn’t.
But if you must go out or be around other people, face masks or facial coverings may play a large part in keeping us all safe and helping to slow the spread of COVID-19. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommend everyone wears cloth face masks away from the home — and that includes kids, too.
If at all possible, it’s best to leave your child at home while you run out. However, if that’s not an option and you must run to the grocery store, pharmacy or doctor’s office, it’s important that both you and your child (over 2 years of age) wear a mask that fully covers the nose and mouth.
It’s understandable if your child is afraid or uncomfortable with the face mask at first — we’ve never had to do this before! Help calm her fears by talking to her about how wearing a mask can block sneezes and coughs to keep germs away that could make us sick. Also, be sure to answer her questions using simple language.
Then, try these 8 ways Tiffany Gray, Akron Children’s child life specialist, is helping to make face masks a little less scary and more comfortable to wear for kids.
- Put a mask on with your child and stand in front of the mirror to talk about them. Show how you can still talk and smile even though you are wearing a mask.
- Play games with the masks, such as peek-a-boo or pretend doctor.
- Practice wearing your masks at home so your child can get used to it.
- Put a cloth face mask on your child’s favorite stuffed animal.
- Choose a mask with your child’s favorite characters or colors to make wearing the mask more fun.
- Show your child pictures of other children or superheroes wearing masks.
- Ask your child to draw and color a picture of her favorite character or animal wearing a mask.
- If the mask is uncomfortable behind her ears, try this instead:
- Add buttons to a headband or ribbon on each end to hold the mask on, instead of your child’s ears.
- Use a monkey game piece from Barrel of Monkeys to hold the mask up.