Helping kids get comfortable in masks

HealthBeat

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The CDC recommends wearing face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. But for some parents, it may be a difficult task to get your child on board.

Most parents know just how tough it can be to get their little ones to eat their vegetables or do their homework.

But most parents probably didn’t expect they would be introducing another challenging task to their child: wearing a mask.

“It is new. There’s a lot of anxiety in our children and in our, you know, in adults as well,” Pediatric occupational therapist Carrie Menke said.

Menke says now more than ever it’s important to be empathetic with kids, and start by easing them into wearing a mask.

“We always start with play, because play actually reduces anxiety in children and mask wearing can cause some anxiety. So I would start with play ideas. So that might be pretending to be a doctor and let your child do a check up on you while wearing a mask,” Menke said.

She also recommends providing various options of face coverings with different fabric if possible.

“They vary greatly with the sensation behind your ears, with the ear loops. With the thickness of the fabric and what not, even breathability. So it really varies even potentially offering one of the neck eaters. Cause some kids respond more positively to that then compared to a mask,” Menke said.

She says celebrate the small strides in the process like finding a comfortable mask, and be patient as kids adapt to the new normal.

“Each kid is different. And so we kind of have to figure out what is the barrier with that mask for your child?” Menke said.

By finding the barrier, parents may be able to help reduce anxiety and normalize mask wearing for their child– making the challenge a little less challenging.

Menke adds that children 2 years old and under should not be wearing a mask.

For more advice on helping your child wear a mask, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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