Even though it seems like the Covid-19 pandemic is finally starting to wane, protective measures are still important. Many children adjusted months ago to mask wearing, but there are a few situations that may call for adjusting to mask wearing. Perhaps your child is entering school for the first time, is newly required to wear a mask to play sports, or is now old enough to need to some basic PPE. Here are some Dos and Don’ts for mask wearing.
How can you encourage children to wear a mask?
1. DO let children pick the style and type of their mask.
Now is not the time for matching outfits or matching siblings, unless that’s what the kids want, of course. Have a variety of types of masks available from which to choose. Some kids will prefer the gaiter style to ear loop type masks, and vice-versa.
2. DO help younger children become familiar with masks.
It’s important to get used to the feeling of wearing a mask, so we recommend first starting at home. If a child is particularly resistant to mask wearing, have them practice wearing the mask while doing an activity they love. For itty bitties, this may be standing at their train table, or watching their favorite show. For older kids, it may mean the Xbox or that new PS5 only gets played if they wear a mask while doing so.
3. DO answer your child’s questions about masks and COVID-19.
Be calm, reassuring, and keep it simple. Knowing what to expect helps kids of all ages feel prepared and more at ease.
Avoid these practices with masks for kids
1. DON’T put a mask on a child younger than two.
However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics,“Cloth face coverings can be safely worn by all children 2 years of age and older, including the vast majority of children with underlying health conditions, with rare exception,”
2. DON’T make the mistake of trying to force a mask onto a resistant child.
If they won’t put on their mask, simply turn around and take them home. It’s likely that once they realize everybody else complied and got to participate, they will make a different choice the next time.
3. DON’T try and be too protective.
AAP guidance lists several exceptions during which they could become a hazard and should not be worn — competitive cheerleading, gymnastics, wrestling and water sports. The face coverings also may not be necessary for outdoor individual sports like golf and singles tennis. (Need a read about sports participation during this complicated time? click here.)
4. DON’T forget to wash them!
Just because masks protect you from germs doesn’t mean they’re not covered in germs! If your little ones are outside playing in them, make sure you change any mask that gets permeated by sweat. It’s good practice to always wash your mask in soap and hot water after the day.
5. DON’T ditch the masks the minute Covid-19 is “over.”
The AAP cites face coverings as a proven, effective way to prevent the spread of many types of germs. Prior to the pandemic, mask wearing was already common in countries such as Japan and South Korea. Mask wearing in densely populated or heavily visited areas may become ubiquitous here as well, and that may be a good thing.