As the world continues to grapple with the Covid pandemic, wearing masks while being out and about seems to be the one of the most effective measures to keep the spread in check. From the initial debates of whether to wear a mask or not, it is undoubtedly proven that masks are the most essential part of self-protection and protection of others around us. While many of us have quickly adapted to this change of picking up our masks before heading out, it can be challenging to make kids conscious of the importance of wearing a mask and to teach them how to effectively use it.
While the primary preventive measure is still social distancing and awareness, the importance of wearing a mask while there is a need to venture out should not be taken lightly.
Here are some points to keep in mind while getting your child to understand the importance of a mask and how to handle one correctly.
1. Practice at home – Although it is not advocated that masks need to be worn while indoors, it is prudent to have short time slot in a day to practice wearing them at home. At a selected time-slot during the day, everyone at home can choose to wear a mask and help each other stick to the discipline of keeping them on properly and using them effectively. This practice can help in understanding how kids are handling their masks and increases the scope of correction if they are using it in an improper way.
2. Honesty helps – Being honest about the pandemic and its seriousness while not sounding fearful goes a long way in helping them understand how importance it is to do their bit keeping themselves and others around them safe. It can be helpful to teach them that wearing masks is an act of responsibility and empathy rather than dramatizing the situation or giving more information than required.
3. Make it fun – it can be daunting to keep reminding kids to wear a mask in a way that properly covers their nostrils and mouth and to not touch their mask often. To make this easier, during trial runs at home, play a game with points for a prescribed time, where everyone wears a mask and loses point each time their mask is unnecessarily touched or not worn properly. This can be fun as a family activity and get kids into the habit of being vigilant while wearing masks.
4. Make it personal – Most kids resist the inconvenience of masks and hence making it a little fun and adding some personal touches to their masks can’t hurt. Getting them involved in selecting their masks with their favourite prints/characters or adding their initials or name on it can make them develop a sense of liking and ownership towards their masks and also can help in making them understand that it is important to wear their own masks and not exchange or share them with others.
5. Mask buddies – Kids love to do difficult or boring tasks when they have their buddies to team up with them. Making matching masks for their favourite toy or their best buddy can encourage them to wear them too. If a friend is involved, they can check on each other if they are wearing their masks each time they step out and if they are wearing it right.
Teaching kids how to take care of their masks
- Tell them the importance of wearing a mask while being out of the house and how it is important to properly cover the nose and mouth while wearing one.
- Explain that masks should not be touched unnecessarily and should not be removed without permission or shared with others.
- Teach them to wash their hands thoroughly before wearing a mask and after removing it.
- Reiterate the importance of wearing clean masks and to turn used masks for washing periodically.
- Select a mask that fits them snugly and comfortably so that they are encouraged to use it with as less inconvenience as possible.