Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Foundation
School starts this month. Some children will attend in person, some will participate via distance learning, and some will do a mixture of both. One nagging concern of parents for kids returning in person, is their ability to keep a mask on for a full day.
Start to prepare your child for this now rather than starting a day or two before school starts. Show your children that wearing a mask is an everyday part of life. Just as you would teach a child to wash his or her hands after using the restroom, or buckle a seat belt when they get into a car, let them know they should put on a mask before going to school.
Let your child choose the look of his or her mask. If you can make them a mask or masks, let them pick out their favorite color or pattern. Get fabric markers and let them design their own.
Make sure the mask is comfortable and breathable. Be aware of the feel of the mask. Talk to your kids about the sensation of the fabric on the face and the elastic or ties around the ears or head. If your child is having trouble with the feel of the mask, consider a softer jersey fabric or neck gaiters that can be pulled up from around the neck. If the ear elastic is a problem, there are ear savers that sit at the back of the head and hold the elastic in place. If ball caps or headbands are allowed in school, consider sewing a button on the cap that the elastic can fit around.
One of the best tips for getting a child ready for prolonged mask wear is to gradually increase the amount of time it is worn. Based on your child’s age and developmental level, start acclimating your child while they are engaged in an activity they like or during a TV show and pay attention to how long they tolerate it.
Model mask wearing behavior by wearing a mask when they do. Show them how to properly wear the mask and remind them about not touching their face and washing their hands. When possible, point out other children wearing masks properly.
Younger children may be inclined to want to trade masks. Help them understand that they have their own special mask that shouldn’t be shared.
Make sure your child wears a mask and put another in their backpack in case it is misplaced or gets dirty. Speak to your child’s teacher if your child is struggling with wearing a mask. Work together to move toward a successful outcome.
Keep the conversation positive. Be thoughtful about how you are talking about masks at home as it may discourage your children from wanting to wear one. The more choice a child has about the mask, the more willing he or she will be about wearing it.
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