Help Children Wear Face Masks
In many places, people are wearing a face mask or cloth in public places due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). It is a crucial way to help slow the spread of the virus.
At first, those who wore masks were, above all, doctors, nurses, and other types of personnel who worked in healthcare settings. But now, with many more people wearing masks, children see more and more something they are not used to. It may seem strange and can even scare them a bit, especially if they also have to wear a mask.
Most children can be comfortable seeing people with masks, as long as elders:
- Use simple words to explain why people are wearing masks.
- Give them time to see, observe, and get used to what is new.
- Answer their questions.
- Give them support.
Some young children may be fussy about masks. And they may need more support and comfort from their parents. Parents can help their children understand why they may have to wear a mask in public places, make them feel comfortable with it, and even find it fun to wear. Children under the age of 2 should not wear a mask.
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How Do Children React To Masks?
How children react to masks depends, in part, on how old they are. Older children can respond very little. For them, masks may not be a significant problem. And most adapt pretty quickly.
Some children may even be excited to wear a mask. They can interpret their new look like that of a medical superhero.
But for babies and young children, getting used to seeing people with masks can take a while. At first, the masks can be imposed on them, and they can feel intimidated. They may need a few minutes to view and observe them. That can help them get used to what is new. They may need their father or mother to say, “Okay, gently. Nothing’s wrong.” It can help them relax.
Some babies and young children may be restless and even scared. They may cry, hide their faces, or cling to their parents. Words of comfort and comfort, as well as the reassurance of sitting on a parent’s lap, can help reassure them.
Why Are Some Young Children Scared Of Masks?
A mask hides a part of the face of the person wearing it. Young children trust faces. Since they are babies, children observe people’s faces for the signs they need to feel safe.
When a mask partially covers faces, children cannot see the friendly smile or the familiar look that would convey reassurance. When a young child cannot see another person’s full face, they have a more challenging time feeling safe. It is natural for you to panic.
But slowly and gently, your parents can help you feel more comfortable and calm. Also, very young kids can learn that something that seemed very scary at first turns out to be fearful after a while.
How Can Parents Help Their Children Wear A Mask?
- Help your child get used to masks. To the extent possible, give your child time to practice wearing the mask before putting it on outside your home. Teach him how to put it on and how to take it off.
- Please encourage your child to decorate his mask. It can give him a sense of ownership and that he is in control. Having personal touch on your mask can make it look more like a regular part of your daily routines and make you want to wear it more. According to the type of mask, children can customize it. Do them together. If you are making masks or cloth face covers at home and have an older child, let me help. Some covers do not have to be sewn and are easy to make from materials you most likely already have at home (T-shirts, bandanas, etc.). If you sew fabric face covers, your child can choose the fabric and pattern that he will use.
- Help him have fun. If your child is young, introduce the masks in their games. You can try the following:
- play doctor: have your child pretend to be a doctor or nurse while wearing the mask. You may want to use your medical equipment to care for your stuffed animals and dolls.
- Play Drama – Let your child play a role in a play, like playing the “chef” with his play kitchen.
- Keep several masks on hand while your child is playing. So you can use your imagination on how to use them while playing. That will also help you make face masks a regular part of your everyday life. Ask your child to put a mask on a stuffed animal and then ask why your stuffed animal is wearing a mask. Depending on the response your child gives you, you can clear up any possible confusion or offer support and reassurance.
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