Finally, everyone’s dressed, had breakfast, brushed their teeth and is heading out the door for the day when suddenly the kids’ masks (which they were wearing seconds ago!) are nowhere to be found. At St. Louis Children’s, our staff understands this challenge because — for many of us — being parents is our other full-time job.
St. Louis Children’s has six tips to prevent mask meltdowns and help kids stay safe when they’re out and about.
Practice at home
Asking children to wear a face covering in public is a challenge, especially for those with sensory disorders. Start off small with 10-minute practice sessions at home where everyone in the household puts on a mask. When the time’s up, celebrate with a small treat for a successful safety drill. Consistency matters so keep up the good work and gradually increase the length of time.
Talk it out
Set aside time to talk with kids about masks in a safe, supportive environment. Ask him how he feels about masks. Does she understand why and when masks must be worn? What other questions does he have? With these conversations, kids can become more comfortable and knowledgeable about masks ultimately keeping them — and the whole family — safe.
Find the perfect fit
When it comes to kids and masks, one size (or type) doesn’t fit all. Experiment with different styles of masks like tie-back versus elastic straps, or change up the type of fabric. Find out what your child finds most uncomfortable about wearing the mask and take steps to improve it.
Masks are a new way to show one’s individuality. Let your kids express themselves by having a family arts and crafts night where everyone decorates a mask. Then, have each person walk down a makeshift runway and debut their new look. Don’t forget the music! The emotional investment and positive affirmation from this exercise will get kids used to not just wearing their masks but showing them off.
Go on a (mini) shopping spree
Put some fun into picking out masks! Whether you’re shopping online or at the store, have your child choose different masks they like that have their favorite color, design, character or sports team on them. Allowing kids to take ownership and pride in the selection process will help encourage wearing a mask.
Look to the superheroes
Every child has someone they look up to, whether it’s a favorite superhero, a character from their favorite TV show or even a doctor. Take a moment to reflect on your child’s role model. Does this person or character love to go on brave adventures? Do they solve tricky problems? Do they always do the right thing? Using this lens, show your child how they can save the day just like their hero by wearing a mask.
One final mask tip: Just like back in the diaper days… always bring extra.