New times call for new measures
1) Educate them using child-friendly language
Explain the pandemic and the importance of a mask by using child-friendly language. Children usually want to know the reasons behind why they are being asked to do something. Make the explanation positive so that you don't end up scaring your little ones, but still make sure you press the importance of wearing face masks. Visuals are a great way to help kids understand. Kids these days are OBSESSED with YouTube, so utilize the various videos available on YouTube that basically do all the explanation work for you! See some amazing videos we found:
2) Engage and involve them
Model mask wearing with your kids and practice through play. Certified Mott child life specialist, Mary Harwood says that "while words are important, children process emotions and learn through play." She recommends planning ahead for outings and playing pretend to prepare children. For example, if you are about to take your Little Princess to a doctor's appointment, play doctor and patient while including the practice of keeping face masks on at all times. Same goes for school, daycare, shopping trips, etc. You can really engage your kids in this lesson and turn it into true play by involving their favorite plushies, dolls, or action figures. Play dress up too! Practice makes perfect, especially when practice is fun!
Another pointer: Really listen to your children during these mask-practicing play sessions. It's a great way for you to find out how well they are understanding and feeling about everything going on today.
3) Let them pick and make it fun
Start considering face masks as an essential accessory for their daily use, but make it fun for them! Let them pick their own masks and make it a fashion statement! Let them express their style and individuality by allowing them to choose their own masks and match them with their little outfits. Provide multiple mask options in different colors, prints, etc. Kids will wear what they love! Get their masks in their favorite colors or with their favorite fictional characters on them. You can find SO MANY variations of face masks today. Do they love unicorns? Get them a unicorn face mask! We have some great options in our shop! Or, do they love Baby Shark? Trust us when we say that you CAN find a Baby Shark mask for them out there! Think of a mask as a new wardrobe necessity and INVEST in what your kids will willingly and openly wear. After all, it's for their safety.
Also, make sure to help them pick masks that make them FEEL COMFORTABLE. Listen to your kids when they say that their mask is too small, too tight, too big, getting in the way of their mouth, not breathable, or has irritating ear straps. You really need to find face masks that they will wear FOR FUN AND FOR COMFORT.
4) Reward them...verbally
Now, when we say reward them, we don't mean give them a cookie every time they wear a mask and keep it on. That might not be the most healthiest solution. It's more important to verbally let them know how proud you are of them. Also, to explain the good they have done by wearing a mask and keeping it on in public. Children are more intelligent than you think. When they know they have done a good deed and they know that they have made you proud, they will be more willing to wear their masks again and keep them on.
Physical rewards may include taking your kiddies on a cool little trip (park, movies, etc.) on the weekend if they wear their mask properly and regularly for the entire school week. If you need to give physical incentives, it's better to do on a weekly basis so they have the push to wear their masks for the whole week, instead of going day by day. Verbal appreciation and recognition is more valuable for day-to-day rewards. You may be surprised on how affective verbal confirmation is. Add some clapping, cheering, and dancing to see that adorable face light up!
5) Make sure they keep their masks on at school
- From Toddlers to Teens: How to Talk to Kids About Wearing Masks by Leah Campbell from Healthline
- Masks Toolkit by the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities by the University of Rochester Medical Center
- Use Masks to Slow the Spread of COVID-10 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- 5 Ways to Get Young Kids to Wear Face Masks by Beata Mostafavi from Michigan's Health Blog
- 5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Wear Masks by Matt Villano from CNN
- 7 Tips to Help Your Child Wear a Face Mask by Children's Health