by Rebecca Ginnetti, School Counselor
As families venture out of their homes more, consider summer activity options, and infants and toddlers return to school, wearing masks and seeing people with masks will for now be our new “normal”. Seeing faces covered by masks can be confusing and possibly scary for children. Here are some tips and resources for children to understand why masks are worn, how to wear them properly, and how to help children feel at ease with the expressionless faces they see due to COVID-19.
- Introduce masks before going out in public or returning to school in the safety and comfort of your home;
- Show your child the mask, practice putting it on your face. Explain when you will wear the mask and that other people will be wearing them too. This helps your child to anticipate future events, offers security and eases anxiety.
- Practice talking with the masks to ensure your child can hear and understand you and is familiar with how voices sound with a mask on;
- Play games with the mask, such as, “peek-a-boo” and “guess my expression”: Explain and demonstrate to your child that you’ll be smiling even though your face isn’t visible. Ask your child to guess how you’re feeling from the expression of your eyes and eyebrows and then reveal how the expression in the eyes matches your mouth.
- If your child is afraid of masks, practice putting on a mask in front of the mirror and talk about it. Put masks on stuffed animals, decorate masks to personalize them, show pictures of children in masks that are healthy and happy, and/or draw masks on their favorite story book character.
If you have any questions or would like to talk further about strategies and resources for you and your family, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Videos on wearing masks for children:
Explained to Kids: Why We Are Wearing Masks
Mask Around Me By Drs Bop 'n Pop
Wearing a Mask- A Social Narrative for Children by Autism Little Learners