The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all children over the age of 2 wear face masks during the current pandemic. But as every parent knows, getting children to wear face coverings properly and keep them on can be challenging.
According to experts, here are some strategies to encourage little ones to stay protected.
1. Find out what is important to your child.Jennifer Sciolla told CNN, "it's not a one size fits all." The senior director of child and family services at Nemours Alfred I. duPont hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, said each child is different, so parents need to find a way to make wearing masks meaningfully to them according their age and understanding of the outside world.
2. Explain in simple words why people are wearing masks.According to KidsHealth, it is important to give kids time to look, watch, and get used to seeing what is new. Let them know, by wearing masks, we are all protecting each other, said Liza Suarez, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "You really can't go wrong if you teach your child that we're all part of this world, and we need to help each other out," she said, according to CNN. Encourage children to ask questions and make time to answer them. Understand, for babies and toddlers, seeing a person wear a mask might be frightening.
3. Make masks together.Older kids can help create their own masks by using T-shirt material or bandannas. If you sew, let them choose their own fabric. Younger kids can help decorate their masks.
4. Make it fun.Encourage children to wear their masks so they become used to the procedure every time they leave their home. Suarez told CNN, parents should start by having kids wear their masks for short periods of time in the home. According to KidsHealth, you can let your children play doctor, putting on the mask to help treat a "wounded" stuffed animal or doll.
5. Be consistent.New rules are learned by repetition even if you feel like a broken record, Suarez said. "It's like anything with parenting," she told CNN. "This isn't going to happen overnight. Parents need to accept that they're laying the foundation that requires gradual increments of time. Little by little, parents get the message across."
Photo: Getty Images