Helping your child embrace wearing a mask can be quite a challenge. Thankfully my school age twins took to wearing a mask fairly easy, however, my youngest isn’t a big fan. Kids, even some adults, can feel like they are suffocating. It can hurt their ears, fogs glasses, and can be down-right annoying. But as we all know masks are a requirement most places we go. Plus, science shows it reduces our risk to spreading or contracting COVID-19. I think most of us have come to terms that masks are going to be a big part of our lives for awhile. So, making our kids comfortable with that fact is extremely important and will reduce daily “mask battles”.
Disclaimer- I AM NOT a professional therapist, doctor, or scientist. These suggestions are simply ideas that have worked for my children. If you are looking for professional help, please discontinue reading now. But if you are interested in some helpful tips I encourage you to read on!
Helping your child through The mask battle
for school age children
“I don’t like it!” “It hurts my ears!” “I’m suffocating!” “I look silly!” … Does any of that sound familiar? Kids have many different emotions when it comes to wearing a face mask or covering. A lot of times they are very negative feelings. Change isn’t always easy for kids; like us adults, they get set in a routine that works for them and when that gets interrupted they feel a little lost.
Sometimes we parents tend to be foot down, no discussion required on certain subjects. (Which is totally fine in most cases!) But I think in a situation like this we need to listen to what our kids are truly saying- “I’m confused.” “I’m uncomfortable.” “People are going to make fun of me.” Then we need to be understanding and find a solution that’ll help both you and your child.
Even though youngsters are given a “pass” when it comes to wearing a mask, some of us aren’t comfortable with that. But trying to get a toddler to strap something across their face is not an easy battle. At first, my youngest would run off screaming. Then, if I was lucky enough to get it on him, he would either throw it on the floor 2 minutes later or he would chew on it until it was dripping wet. So, how do we get a toddler to embrace wearing a mask?
First I have to say that in my case it got easier as my son got older. Plus I think it also helps as they get more familiar with the idea. Watching you and/or their siblings wearing a mask with make them feel more comfortable, leading to less pushback. You can also use some of the methods that I mention for older kids in the next section, but the main thing is lots of understanding and encouragement!
helping your child Embrace wearing a mask
As parents we need to find a balance, whether that is common ground or a little compromise. (I’m not saying let your child leave the house without a mask!)
Find the common ground by letting them know they aren’t alone in disliking the mask, you yourself are probably not a huge fan either. Then explain the risks of not wearing a mask when you leave the house. Follow that with the pros of wearing a mask. Maybe you could also explain that you wear one to not only protect yourself but also your loved ones.
I have always tried to be transparent with my kids. Obviously I want to shield them from certain things, but I also think they understand more than we give them credit for. At the beginning of the pandemic I took time to explain what was happening. I didn’t want the news doing that for me. My kids have big hearts and didn’t want to risk getting anyone sick so they were willing to wear a mask, however, it did take a few tries to find the right fit.
And that leads to the compromise. Letting your child be part of the “mask buying” experience can help encourage them to be more open to wearing a mask. There are hundreds of styles and designs to choose from. Disposable or washable. Plain or printed. Traditional mask or a neck gaiter. I did notice that plain masks were not as much of a hit with my kids as the rainbows and dinosaurs were. (And moms, if you’re anything like me you want their mask to match their outfit…compromise! As long as they are protected its okay if they have unicorns on their mask and Minnie Mouse on their shirt!)
Tips for helping your child embrace the mask
- Ask your child what type of mask they would like to wear. (Traditional or Gaiter)
- Look for a mask or covering in their favorite characters or sports teams.
- Make a small mask for your child’s favorite doll or stuffed animal. Seeing their “best friend” wearing one can be comforting.
- Masks with soft, adjustable ear pieces are a necessity!
- Let your child be creative! If they have a knack for sewing, find some material in a pattern they love and let them have some fun!
- If your child tends to lose or misplace their mask often, a lanyard is a great way to keep track of them!
- Be the example! If your child sees you wearing a mask, you won’t hear “well you don’t wear one so why do I have to?”
- Don’t freak your child out with statistics. Sometimes parents feel the need to scare their kids into submission, and most times that backfires. Explain, Encourage, and Praise…this will get you further than scaring, yelling, and making your child feel like a baby.
masks that worked for my kids
After searching for a mask that fit and had the right designs we finally hit the jackpot! Martex Reusable Face Masks are comfortable, they also have soft ear loops that I could tie to make the mask fit a little more snug to prevent it from falling down. I also found that the nose piece in the Cat & Jack Reusable Cloth Face Mask is handy! It helps keep the mask in place, yet it doesn’t irritate the nose.
Helping your child embrace wearing a mask will take a lot of patience, encouragement, and more than likely a little compromise. Remember, this is a battle worth fighting. Our children’s health and safety is our top priority, so try to make it theirs as well!
If you have a picky eater check out these tips!