Kids and Masks: Talking About Safety and Comfort
Just as for the rest of us, it’s recommended for kids over the age of 2 to wear a mask when going out. But it can be hard to persuade a child to wear a mask. And we know that when it is safe and recommended for in-person learning in schools to start, wearing masks can play a major role in creating healthy and safe school communities.
Dr. John Anderson, pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente Northwest, has suggestions for how to make it more comfortable and fun for kids to mask up. “Children over the age of 2 should wear a mask when they are in settings where social distancing (at least six feet away from others) cannot be maintained, including both indoor and outdoor environments,” says Dr. Anderson.
Masks can be a scary for young children, but there are ways to help make them feel more comfortable:
- Wear a mask yourself, and let them know it’s OK if they feel scared.
- Allow them to practice wearing a mask, and teach them how to put it on and take it off before going out in public.
- Make wearing a mask fun by having them decorate their mask, if the fabric allows, or using a fun and friendly pattern to make masks at home.
- Put a mask on a favorite stuffed animal, play superhero games, or draw a mask on their favorite character.
For older kids, talk with them about why everyone is wearing a mask—and remind them how they can play an important role in protecting others who are more likely to get sick. Let them know they are part of a team that’s helping to protect their family and their community from the virus.
“Be honest—but not scary—about how a mask helps prevent everyone from spreading germs,” says Dr. Anderson. “Talk about why everyone is wearing one. And explain that acts such as sneezing and coughing can sometimes spread bad germs, and wearing a mask offers a protective barrier.”
Want more information on how to protect your children from COVID-19? See Kaiser Permanente’s FAQ section on children and COVID-19.