With some schools opening in person classes, sports and activities resuming with precautions, and families venturing a little further out into the world, wearing masks is becoming a necessity. Adults have had a chance to get more comfortable wearing masks. Many of us have been wearing them since March when we go to stores or at work and we’ve started to develop preferences and learn tricks to make wearing them more tolerable. If your child hasn’t had a chance to get comfortable wearing a mask for long periods of time, follow these tips to help them adjust to our new normal:
- Practice wearing a mask at home for periods of time so they learn what feels most comfortable and can get used to it on their face.
- If your child will be attending school in person, have 2-3 masks per day for your child. I have been wearing mine with children all day at work and typically change it out 1-2 times. They get wet, smelly, and just yucky feeling against your face after a few hours and we want our children to be set up for success.
- Try out different fabrics and styles. Allow your child to experiment with ear loops or ties, and consider trying these free “ear savers” to help remove the loops off of their ears. Some masks have a flexible nose piece which can help to keep the mask above their noses. Without the nose piece, they tend to slip off and I notice this tends to lead to more playing, adjusting, and fidgeting with the masks. Some masks are better with glasses than others. Let your child try a few different types to find the best fit.
- Make them fun and allow for creativity. Let your children pick out different colors or patterns, or let them color and decorate them. Beyond masks, we now have mask accessories we can personalize.
- Purchase a water bottle with a straw to help them stay hydrated at school while still keeping their mask on. Have them practice this at home.
- Invest in breath mints or some good mouth wash! See if your child’s teacher will allow gum chewing with masks on. This may help with the stink factor and can also prevent kids from chewing on the masks.
We don’t want to forget that children are resilient. I have observed many kids adjusting well to this new norm. Monitor your own anxiety, feelings, and thoughts about wearing masks. When you talk about mask wearing, keep your statements neutral and matter of fact. Avoid long discussions and making assumptions about how your child may be feeling. Approaching our new normal with a problem solving and experimental attitude (“you don’t like the smell? Let’s see if chewing gum helps.”) sends the message that we can make it work.