Due to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, many people use face masks in public to help reduce the spread of the virus. When children are in public, they are experiencing something they never have before. Some children may be uncomfortable or confused when they see people wearing masks because it can be alarming when the child is not adjusted to this change. For them, it can be strange or a little scary, especially because they need to incorporate masks into their daily routines as well.
To help your child feel comfortable wearing their mask in public to reduce their chance of receiving or spread COVID-19, here are a few steps that you can follow.
Use simple words to explain why people are wearing masks.
Give your child time to look, watch, and get used to what’s new so that they can understand how the coronavirus has changed their daily lives.
Answer any questions that your child may have. Encourage their curiosity so that they can further understand the purpose of a mask.
Give support to your child so that they feel safe and secure.
Young children may feel uneasy about masks because masks hide part of a person's face. When faces are partly hidden by masks, kids can't see a friendly smile or familiar look that usually puts them at ease when seeing a stranger in public. When a child can't see a person's whole face, it's usually harder for them to feel safe, commonly making them scared of wearing masks themselves. Parents can help kids feel more comfortable so that wearing and seeing others wearing masks in public is not as scary as it seemed at first.
A child may need extra support and comfort from parents during this time of uncertainty. Parents can help kids understand why they need to wear a mask, and even make masks fun to wear. Give your child time to practice wearing their masks before they might need to wear one outside of your home by teaching them how to put the masks on and off. To make masks less intimidating and fun for your child, you can encourage them to decorate their mask. A personal touch can help make wearing a mask more of a normal part of their routine, as well as making it more likely that they will want to wear their mask instead of fearing it.
While your child plays, you can have a few masks available to incorporate them into their play. This helps make a mask a more normal part of their everyday world. You can ask your child to put a mask on a stuffed animal, and then ask follow-up questions about why the stuffed animal is wearing the mask. Depending on your child's response, you can clear up any confusion and offer reassurance.