COVID-19 Masks and Kids
As we near the end of self-isolation, people in different regions of the country are starting to venture back out into the world. Beyond businesses reopening and adult’s resuming their routines, our children will also be exposed to the “outside world” once again. That said, while we’re leaving lockdown, we’re not exactly out of the woods yet. The coronavirus is still very much a threat. For this reason, let’s focus on some of the tough questions about COVID-19 masks and kids.
COVID-19 Masks and Kids: Are They Necessary?
There’s a lot of questions about COVID-19 masks and kids. For kids under two years of age, it’s generally assumed among medical professionals that masks aren’t much help in preventing them from contracting or transmitting the virus. This is because they should not be in close enough contact with anyone or anyplace that may expose them to the virus in the first place. Additionally, kids this young are at risk of suffocation or strangulation. Not only that, but if the mask is bothering the child, it may increase the urge to pull it off completely. As many of us have learned, touching your face during this pandemic is a serious no-no. Therefore, the best tip for kids under two is to prevent the little ones from exposure altogether. That means continuing to keep them at home as much as possible.
For children over age two, that’s a different story. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these kids should wear masks whenever they’re outside of their homes. Just like adults, these kids will not need masks when home with their immediate families. This is, of course, assuming that no one in the home has been exposed to the virus. Outside the home, COVID-19 masks and kids over two years old are necessary any time a child may come within six feet of another person. You never can be too careful.
When it comes to COVID-19 masks and kids, older children will likely have an easier time understanding the circumstances of why they need to wear a mask. Unfortunately, younger kids may not truly grasp the gravity of the situation. Therefore, it is important for parents to keep a constant watchful eye. Kids may not be able to restrain themselves from running towards other people, touching everything around them or pulling at their mask. In this regard, parents should practice the similar rules of active supervision that you would need to implement at a swimming pool. Stay within arms length of a child at all times, be sure that they understand the importance of wearing their mask and generally keep them out of harm’s way.
How to Properly Wear a Mask
For both kids and adults, a mask is useless if it isn’t worn properly. For maximum protection, a COVID-19 mask should be positioned securely to cover your nose and mouth. It should also stretch from one ear to the other.
This informative video should provide you with extra guidance for COVID-19 masks and kids… and adults:
What If Children Are Afraid of the Masks?
Let’s face it, these masks can seem pretty scary to a child. After all, when a person’s face is hidden, it can be quite unsettling. Fortunately, there are many ways parents can help encourage the use of COVID-19 masks and kids.
For older kids, show them that wearing a mask can be fun. In fact, it can feel like cosplaying as their favorite superhero or video game characters. Otherwise, let kids decorate their masks. As long as the designs don’t impede the medical use of the mask, it’s a great way to add some personality to these otherwise dreary safety tools. These ideas may seem hokey, but you’ll be surprised how often kids respond to stimulus like this.
For younger kids, it can be a bit trickier. They may be frightened of wearing a mask. They may even be frightened of seeing you in the mask. This is understandable. After all, who among us isn’t a bit uneasy these days? The trick here is to make the masks seem more routine. When it comes to COVID-19 masks and kids, you’ll want to establish that this is normal.
Here are some quick tips for getting kids used to the masks:
- Stand in front of the mirror together, both wearing masks. Talk as you normally would. Let the kids get acclimated to seeing themselves (and you) in the masks.
- Show the kids photos and videos of other kids wearing masks. This will make the concept seem a bit less alien to them.
- Just like with the older kids, decorate the masks. A bit of personality can go a long way.
- Explain why we’re wearing masks in simple terms. Just say something along the lines of: “It helps us keep healthy and strong. These masks keep us from feeling sick.” Don’t burden the children with stories of doom and gloom. This will only increase their anxiety.
Finally, keep some extra masks handy in the home. These can be “throwaway” masks that you only use for playtime. These will help it seem normal for COVID-19 masks and kids to get along. Putting a mask on a stuffed animal for instance can go a long way toward relaxing a nervous child.
Above all, parents and guardians need to be extra patient these days. Kids are going to have a lot of questions. Be sure to answer them honestly and frequently, but in kid-friendly terms. Additionally, don’t forget to teach them how to properly wash their hands!