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Tried-and-True Tips for Getting Young Kids Comfortable Wearing Face Masks

Whether you’re gearing up for your child’s return to school or taking COVID-19 precautions as you venture out with your little one, we know parents may be facing – or fearing – challenges getting their kids comfortable wearing face masks.

Maybe you’re seeing other children wearing masks but think your son or daughter would never be able to wear one for more than a few minutes. Or maybe you haven’t had much luck in the cooperation department as you try to practice at home. Either way, the good news is it’s entirely possible for young children to adjust to wearing face coverings (yes, even our two-year-old friends). These tried-and-true tips can help.

1. Test out different types of masks.
The right fit can have a huge effect on your child’s comfort. Beyond making sure the mask is an appropriate size, allow your child to test out different styles – for example, masks with pleated sides, fitted masks with a seam down the center, masks with elastic around the ears, masks with top and bottom ties, etc. – to see which fits their face best.

2. Have fun personalizing masks.
Think about how excited kids get about wearing a hat or pair of shoes with a favorite character, sport or design on them. Encourage that excitement to carry over to their face covering by finding fun ways to customize your child’s masks and make them extra special. Whether it’s finding the perfect patterns to order or doing some DIY work, a little personalization can go a long way.

3. Start small and practice.
Like anything new, getting comfortable wearing a mask requires practice. It may not be realistic to expect your child to go from wearing a face covering for a few minutes here and there to being able to comfortably wear one for a few hours at a time without working up to it. It is completely feasible, however, when your child has opportunities to practice wearing their mask for increasingly longer periods of time.

As you practice with your child, don’t forget that kids at school take natural breaks from wearing their face coverings during morning and afternoon snack time, at lunch, nap time and during outside play.

4. Show kids they’re in good company.
To help children adapt, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends putting a face covering on a favorite stuffed animal, drawing one on your child’s favorite book character and showing your child pictures of other children wearing them. Seeing other children wearing them at school helps familiarize mask-wearing, too.

5. Make masks a standard part of your routine.
Children are generally very good at learning new routines if they’re practiced with consistency. Just like they learn to automatically line up at the sink to wash their hands when they come inside from outdoor play or that after snack it’s time to go to the book nook for reading, kids become accustomed to learning – fairly quickly – that they need to put their masks on when they get out of the car at school in the morning (“when we unbuckle our seat belts, we put on our masks”) or when they come in from the playground, especially when they see their peers doing the same thing.

6. Lean on others for reinforcement.
Wearing masks is new for all of us, and we’ve been very impressed with how well our students have been adjusting. While these tips can help minimize bumps in the road, your child may get upset or take a longer time to adjust – and that’s ok. Barring any concerns related to your child’s health that would require a consultation with your pediatrician, remember to coach your child with kindness and to lean on others – like your child’s teachers – for reinforcement.

At The Malvern School, we’re always here as a resource for you and your child, and we’re committed to helping you navigate this new normal in any way we can.

If you have any questions or concerns about our COVID-19 health and wellness protocols or your child’s transition back to school, the Directors at your local school would love to hear from you.

We’re ready when you are. Now enrolling for Fall 2020.

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