UPDATE: On November 16, 2020, Mayor Jim Kenney and Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley amended a June 26 executive order requiring people to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Philadelphia. This amended order does not apply to children age 2 years or younger.
Wearing a mask is one of our best strategies to protect ourselves and the people around us from COVID-19. We should all be wearing masks when we are not at home and continue to stay at least 6 feet away from people we do not live with (social distancing).
Masks are not recommended for children under two years of age. However, we know that even for children two and older, getting used to wearing a mask can be challenging.
Here are some ways to practice getting your child comfortable with face masks:
- Introduce your child to the idea of a mask. Talk about what it is and show them a mask. Look in the mirror as you both wear a mask and talk about what you see.
- Let your child pick their own mask (type of material, color, etc.). You could even let them decorate their own mask!
- Practice wearing a mask at home with your child.
- The best way to show our children what to do is through modeling – wear your own mask when you are going out in public spaces.
- Look at pictures of people wearing masks.
- Put a mask on your child’s favorite toys (try this with a stuffed animal, action figure, or whatever else your child connects with).
- Draw a picture of your child’s favorite character, animal, or person wearing a mask.
- Parents can help get children get used to wearing a mask by comparing wearing a mask to being a superhero. Wearing a mask is like wearing a superhero cape. When you wear it, you protect your friends and neighbors from getting sick.
- Read stories about wearing a mask. You can use a story like this one from Conscious Discipline or create your own.
- Watch this short clip from CNN’s Sesame Street special about why to wear a mask and how to make a mask.
- Sesame Street has a great game to help children get used to wearing a mask.
- Introduce your child to wearing a mask through songs like Mask Around Me by Drs Bop ‘n Bop.
- If after trying all these tips, your child still isn’t able to wear a mask, you can try a face shield instead.
- Consistency and practice are key. It can take some time for children (and even adults) to get used to a new routine like wearing a mask.
- Success sometimes looks like failing and trying again; sometimes repeatedly (and that’s okay).Be kind to yourself and your child as we all adjust to a new routine.
- Make sure the mask is snug around your/your child’s nose and mouth and doesn’t have any gaps at the sides.
- Learn more about why, when, and how to wear a mask, including how to make a face mask at home.