A common question that doctors hear from patients is, “Should children wear face masks to combat coronavirus?” The World Health Organization (WHO) published a set of guidelines on the use of protective coverings for children. Exactly how children contribute to the spread of coronavirus is not yet fully understood by scientists, with only a small percentage of cases of the disease (4% in the UK and EU) reported in children. However, they point to evidence suggesting that older children may transmit the virus more actively than younger children, as adults do.
Putting a face mask on a child can be a challenge and keeping the face mask on is an even bigger one. Some toddlers and young children may feel uneasy about masks. They may need extra support and comfort from parents. If parents help kids understand why they might need to wear a mask and this can make them more comfortable and even fun to wear. Here are 3 tips to encourage your kids to wear face masks:
- Explain the importance of face masks
Begin by educating your child on why wearing a face mask is important to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Use age-appropriate language to talk to your child about coronavirus.
For younger children, stick to simple, concrete terms. You can say things like, “Wearing a mask helps keep us safe and keep others around us safe,” or “Wearing a mask can help protect us and others from germs.” It’s helpful to be consistent in how you explain wearing a mask, and repeating that message. Parents should never expound, as it only causes more confusion.
For older children, you can share more information and refer to trusted resources such as the CDC for illustrations that show how masks can help prevent the virus from spreading.
- Provide fun and colorful mask options
Nowadays, facemasks are becoming more colorful and creative. They are becoming kid-friendly which is helping parents be more successful at getting their children to wear the protective gear. Try to look for cloth masks that feature your child’s favorite color or cartoon character. You can even have your child help choose which design they like best, so they feel a part of the process.
“If possible, have a few different mask options for your child, so they can decide which mask they want to wear that day,” suggests Faubel. “This can help prevent any battles when asking them to put on their mask.”
- Normalize face masks via play
One of the best ways to help kids adjust to wearing a mask through play. Children learn through play, and it can also help them process their feelings. You can give your child a mask for their favorite stuffed animal, sew a matching mask for a favorite doll, or draw masks on characters in coloring books. Consider having your child practice putting a mask on a toy and wearing the mask with the toy to normalize the situation.
Putting in a little effort to help them cope with this new normal will have a great impact. Try to listen to what your child is saying in order to learn how your child is processing this situation.
Researchers have concluded that children aged 12 and over should wear a mask in the same way that adults do. They should be particularly careful to wear masks in areas where the virus is particularly prevalent.
On the other hand, evidence suggests that children aged five and under should not be expected to wear masks. WHO explained: “This is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance.”
If you need to talk to a pediatrician on how to encourage your kids to wear face masks, call or message us today. The Village Doctor offers membership-based medical services allowing you and your family to get immediate care from our doctors 24/7.24