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Children and face coverings. What you need to know.

June 10, 2020 | Wellness | Safety | Resources | Healthy You

A young child holds a mask up to his face

Helping your child cope with wearing a face covering.

While it is vital that adults wear a cloth face covering or masks it is also important for children over age 2. Children age 2 and under should not wear a face covering due to risks of breathing problems. Getting your child to wear a cloth covering can be challenging. These tips below, from Certified Child Life Specialist, Megan Massey can help families and children cope with wearing a face covering or mask.  

Here are some tips that may help:

  • As early as the preschool years, children can understand simple explanations about why we wear face coverings (keeping germs away or keeping germs we may have away from others). Use simple words that won’t worry or frighten your child.
  • Adults and older siblings are great role models. When we wear cloth face covering, children will want to do it too.
  • Tell your child in advance (the day before if possible) if they will need to wear a cloth face covering or mask.
  • Children learn through play; you can introduce the idea by placing a face covering or mask on your child’s favorite doll or stuffed animal during play time.
  • Let your child choose a color or pattern for their face covering.
  • Show pictures of other children wearing face coverings.
  • Color face coverings on pictures in a storybook or draw pictures of people wearing face coverings.
  • Give your child a small reward (examples: sticker, five minutes screen time) each time they can wear the face covering for short periods (example: 5 minutes to start, increasing to 15).

Explain that using face covering or mask is a rule right now. For example, “It’s a rule to wear shoes outside and for now it’s a rule to wear a face covering when we go to out.”

Once the face covering is on reassure them that they are doing great and it will only be for a little while. Once safely back inside remember to help your children remove their face covering or mask and either throw it away (one-time use paper masks) or place it in the washing machine (cloth-recommendations are that each mask is washed between use) and wash their hands right away.