(WYTV) – Face masks are now becoming part of our everyday lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone over the age of 2 wear a mask if they go out in public. But what if your child is scared of or unsure about these masks?
Anyone who’s been around young kids knows this is true…
“Telling a 2-year-old to do something — you’re looking for trouble,” said Joe Shorokey, licensed professional clinical counselor.
But what about when it comes to safety during this pandemic?
Wearing a mask is new and uncomfortable for everyone.
“Think about it — it’s scary for us. So for us to have this conversation with our kids, I think the key is to be developmentally appropriate,” Shorokey said.
Akron Children’s child life specialist Tiffany Gray said if at all possible, it’s best to leave your child at home when you run out. But if that’s not an option, she said you and your child (if they are over 2 years old) should wear masks that fully cover your noses and mouths.
Shorokey said that means explaining to your young kids why we’re wearing masks and answering all of their questions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics adds that for children under 3, explain that sometimes people wear masks when they are sick and stop wearing them when they are better.
For children over 3, try focusing on germs — some are good and some are bad. Since we can’t always tell which are good or bad, masks can protect us from all of them that come from coughs and sneezes.
Here are some tips for making masks less scary:
- Look in the mirror with the face coverings on and talk about it. Show how you can still talk and smile even though you are wearing a mask.
- Put a cloth face covering on a favorite stuffed animal.
- Practice wearing your masks at home so your child can get used to it.
- Show your child pictures of other children wearing them.
- Draw a mask on one of their favorite characters or have them draw a mask on.
Shorokey said his number-one tip is to make it fun.
“Try to find ways to make it fun for the kids is the best way we’re going to get there. Forcing them to or requiring them to do it, we’re asking for trouble.”
So how can you make wearing a mask fun? Here are a few tips:
- Play games with the masks, like peek-a-boo or pretend doctor.
- Let your child pick a mask with their favorite characters or colors.
- Decorate them so they’re more personalized and fun.
If the mask is uncomfortable behind their ears, try adding buttons or ribbon to a headband to hold the mask on instead. You can also use a Barrel of Monkeys game piece to keep the mask around your child’s head.
“Be honest with your kids,” Shorokey said. “Let them know this is something that none of us expected or predicted. We haven’t seen it before in our life and what we’re trying to do is keep the world safe.”