Whether you are traveling, preparing for a return to school, or live somewhere with high rates of COVID-19 transmission -- wearing a mask is vital, especially if you are not vaccinated. But convincing a child to wear a mask for an extended period of time can be a challenge.
CNN spoke to experts, including doctors, psychologists, and parents, who share their tips and suggestions to help parents convince their children to wear a mask.
How Will Your Child Relate to Wearing a Mask?
The experts stress every child will react differently when they need to wear a mask, and they suggest parents need to first determine how their little one might respond to being asked to mask up. Senior director of child and family services at Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children Jennifer Sciolla tells CNN, "It's not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. You always want to make that time and space in the beginning for parents to consider their child." CNN suggests parents ask themselves these questions: "What is important to my child? How does my child understand information? How aware of the outside world is my child? To what extent might a mask or the possibility of a mask give my child anxiety?"
Explain Why a Mask is Needed
The experts stress communicating with your child about the importance of wearing a mask is vital. They also say to use words and concepts they will understand and that are age-appropriate. Professor of clinical psychiatry Liza Suarez suggests, "It's helpful to say things like, 'Face coverings reduce the chances we infect others,' and, 'If we all wear masks, we protect each other.' You can't really go wrong if you teach your child that we're all part of this world, and we need to help each other out."
Make Your Child Part Of the Process
Involve your child in the process of wearing a mask and the experts suggest letting your child pick out their mask in order to feel involved. Another tip we love, make masks with your child, and let them pick out their fabric, cut out the pattern, and even sew it! Check out this helpful mask-making video.
If your child is struggling to wear a mask properly, CNN's experts suggest having your child first wear it around the house in order to get familiar with it and to learn how to wear the face-covering properly -- remember both the nose and mouth need to be covered. For younger kids, try to make mask-wearing part of playtime and have your kids practice on dolls or incorporate it into a game.
Reinforce and Remind
Repetition is key with masking, say CNN's experts. Without nagging or being overbearing, it is important for parents to consistently remind kids about the importance of keeping their masks on when they are necessary. Suarez tells CNN, "It's like anything with parenting, really; this isn't going to happen overnight. Instead, parents need to accept that they're laying a foundation that requires gradual increments of time. Little by little, parents get the message across."