Tips and tools to help parents adjust to this new reality of masks and COVID-19
Recently, the City of Columbia, Missouri passed a mask ordinance. It requires all individuals over the age of 10 to wear a face mask with some exceptions. Also, to help stop the spread of COVID-19, health experts are recommending individuals above the age of 2 to wear cloth face coverings. The research is proving that wearing a mask, along with frequent handwashing and social distancing, prevents the rapid spread of COVID-19. Due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, cities, schools, libraries, and businesses are more commonly requiring masks.
Parents and caregivers are adjusting to this new reality and what it means for their young children. Below, we link to articles written by health experts to explain more of the research behind the importance of wearing masks. The question rising to the surface for many parents is,
How do I get my child to wear a mask?
There are some important points to mention as we discuss this question. It is critical to note for safety, experts agree that face masks should NOT be placed on a child who is under age 2. It is also important to point out that the most proven way to reduce risk of a COVID-19 infection is to control your environment – limit your outings, reduce social contacts, and play outdoors and in well-ventilated areas.
We have gathered some helpful suggestions for parents and caregivers to help kids adjust to wearing face masks:
MODEL: Have older siblings and parents model wearing masks.
PRETEND: Use imagination and pretend play with masks. Let your little one put a mask on a stuffed animal or doll.
PRACTICE: Have your child practice wearing the mask at home for short periods of time and then work up to longer periods of time.
CHOICE: Allow your little ones to select the mask pattern.
VISUALS: Create or use a picture story about wearing masks. Draw and look at photos of people or characters wearing masks.
TALK: Share with your child why it is important to wear masks. Sesame Street shares simple talking points to help parents and caregivers talk with their children about wearing masks:
“Germs can make us sick. They are too small to see, but we might carry them inside our bodies.
You can spread germs even if you feel healthy, so wearing masks keeps others safe from germs we may have.
Masks are part of any super-healthy superhero’s outfit!
Wear masks when it’s hard to stay a safe distance from others you don’t live with.
Wearing masks is a great way to show we care about others.”
Can we just say this? Being a parent is hard, now more than ever. Reaching out for support and taking care of your own wellbeing as a parent is vital. Our First Chance team is here to help encourage and empower parents as their child’s first and most important teacher. Teaching and modeling safety is not always simple or straightforward. If you need support and resources, we want you to contact us for help.
We have collected a few additional resources to help parents and children learn more:
- Video by Wild Kratts on PBS Kids: Why We Wear Masks
- Video by PBS Learning Media -Meet the Helpers: Wearing a Mask
- Article by CDC: Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19 in Children
- Article by CDC: Considerations for Wearing Cloth Face Coverings
- Article by HealthyChildren.org: Cloth Face Coverings for Children During Covid-19
- Article by Zero to Three: Why are people wearing masks?