Adults and older kids are starting to accept wearing masks outside as the new norm and a public health necessity. Now, we need to figure out a way to help our younger children to become comfortable donning a mask whenever they head out in public. The primer below has some excellent suggestions that may help. We would like to see some of your fun ideas. Send pictures of you or your children in your favorite masks to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post them for our whole community to see. Face coverings can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and should be worn in public settings by all adults and children over the age of 2 years old when social distancing is not possible. It is natural for young children to feel scared of face coverings, but there are some ways for you to help put them at ease.
- Help your child understand the importance of face coverings. Explain that face coverings can keep away bad germs and help to keep ourselves, our family and our friends healthy and safe!
- Early morning outings may work better for young children.
- Show your child pictures of other children wearing face coverings. Children often find masks different and strange, but by seeing them on others, your child will be more inclined to wearing one.
- Personalize the face covering by allowing your child to decorate the mask or choose the pattern. You can turn the mask into a costume and let them “dress up” for their outings..
- Practice wearing face coverings at home together. You can make masks for their favorite stuffed animals to wear and play “going outside” together. Start with a quick try-on and work up to wearing the mask for longer periods of time. Use positive reinforcement by letting your child know how proud you are of your big kid for wearing their covering!
- Model consistent mask-wearing behavior and try not to attach anxiety or fear to mask wearing. Children pick up quickly on parental anxieties and cues
- Create games that use the mask. For example, you can have your child try to guess your facial expression while you are wearing the mask. They can try to figure out if you are smiling or frowning while your mouth and nose are covered.
- Read The Task of the Mask with your child. You won’t regret it.
Face coverings are not recommended for children under the age of 2 years or for children with cognitive or respiratory impairments in which masks may be a choking or suffocation hazard. Homemade or purchased cloth face coverings are fine for most people to wear. Face coverings should be snug and comfortable so your child is not readjusting it and touching their face frequently. The covering should be worn over the nose and mouth for adequate protection and should be washed frequently, ideally after each use. Professional grade masks like N-95 masks should be reserved for medical professionals on the front lines who have increased risk of exposure to coronavirus and are not recommended for children unless they are immunocompromised or would be considered high risk if they contracted COVID-19. Although the number of cases of COVID-19 are decreasing, it is more important than ever to continue following the social distancing guidelines, especially as the weather gets nicer in NYC. Even with the use of masks outside in public, be sure to maintain social distancing (of at least 6 feet) when possible and be sure to practice good hand hygiene. If you have any symptoms or are feeling ill, you should remain at home. If you have further questions, feel free to reach out to any of us here at Premier Pediatrics. We are more than happy to help provide guidance on this topic.