If you’re trying to figure out how to get kids to wear a face mask, you’re not alone.
I see so many templates, patterns, and tutorials for DIY face masks for kids floating around on the internet, but very little in the way of tips to get children to actually wear them (and keep them on). With schools and summer camps closed until September (and beyond) across the globe, many of us are still sheltering in place, and our kids have mostly been spared the need to wear masks. But as businesses start to open up and we begin thinking about sending our children back to daycare and school, many parents (myself included!) are starting to make plans and preparations on how to keep our kids safe.
If you want to know how to get kids to wear a face mask, we’ve got 8 tips to help!
How to Get Kids to Wear a Face Mask
1. HAVE A CONVERSATION
My first tip for those who want to know how to get kids to wear a face mask may sound so obvious and simple, but I think we sometimes forget that our kids don’t necessarily understand all of the ways our lives have recently changed. While you may have had conversations with them about daycare, school, and camp closing, the reasons why we’re sheltering in place, and the right way to wash their hands after being outside, have you proactively taken the time to educate your kids about what the future may look like? They have probably seen people wearing masks on TV and in your neighborhood, but do they fully understand why people are wearing masks and why it’s important that they wear one in situations where they cannot socially distance themselves from others?
There are tons of great age-appropriate resources online to help guide these types of conversations with your kids, with suggested verbiage to help you convey the importance of wearing masks not only for the personal health and safety of your kids, but for the health and safety of others too.
2. NORMALIZE IT
If you want to know how to get kids to wear a face mask, another important tip to consider is to try to normalize it as much as possible. Remember that the sooner you start to practice getting your kids comfortable wearing masks, the better equipped they’ll be once they need to wear them. Here are some things you can do to help normalize the idea of wearing masks so it feels less scary and overwhelming:
- Get into the habit of wearing a mask around your child (i.e. when preparing to go out, when coming home after running errands, while talking to neighbors, etc.)
- Give your child the opportunity to practice putting their own masks on and taking them off daily so they become more comfortable with the process
- Have your child look in the mirror while wearing their mask so they get used to seeing themselves in a mask
- Given them extra masks to put on their favorite stuffed animals and dolls
- Show them photos of other kids wearing masks
- Ask relatives and friends to show off their masks on Zoom and FaceTime, social media, etc.
- Organize a ‘show off your mask!’ playdate with your child’s friends on Zoom or FaceTime
3. BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL
It’s no secret that our children watch our every move, so if you want to know how to get kids to wear a face mask, it only makes sense that you wear one yourself. While I know a lot of adults have strong feelings about wearing masks in public, remember that this isn’t about you. If your child will be mandated to wear a mask in certain settings (i.e. daycare, school, doctor’s appointments, etc.), it is your responsibility to be a good role model. Take the emotion out of it, practice what you preach, show your child that masks aren’t scary, and remind them that they are designed to protect us.
4. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
If your child finds it difficult to tolerate a face mask, consider the reasons why and strategize ways to make things easier for your little one.
- If the mask bothers your child’s ears, start by having him or her wear ponytail holders on his or her ears to get used to the sensation without the added weight of the mask.
- If the mask bothers your child’s face and/or feels too suffocating, experiment with different breathable fabrics.
- If your child’s glasses fog up when wearing a mask, try different sizes and shapes to ensure the mask fits snug over his or her nose.
- If your child’s mask falls off too easily, secure it in place with a piece of string or elastic at the back.
5. GET MATCHING MASKS
Another great tip to get kids excited about wearing face masks is to make/purchase matching masks. Wearing a mask for the first time can make kids feel uncomfortable and self-conscious, and finding ways for them to feel the same as others can be incredibly helpful. Younger kids might like having the same masks as their siblings and/or parents, and older kids might feel more motivated to wear their masks if they match the ones their friends are wearing.
6. MAKE IT A PROJECT
With so many DIY face mask tutorials available online, your child can choose his or her favorite fabric and you can turn mask-making into a fun project you can enjoy together. Older kids can create masks with their friends via Zoom, and can surprise one another with different creations as gifts.
Not creatively inclined? No worries! A lot of online retailers are selling adorable masks for kids (we’ve found great ones on Etsy!), and local businesses in your area might be selling them as well. Do a little research, and let your child choose a few that appeal to him or her. Remember that the more your child likes the design, the more likely he or she will wear it!
7. INCORPORATE IT INTO PLAY
One of the best ways to teach kids is through play, so if you’re trying to figure out how to get kids to wear a face mask, find creative ways to make it fun! Here are some ideas to inspire you:
- Mask masks for their stuffed animals
- Draw pictures of people wearing masks with silly patterns and designs
- Arrange a Zoom call for your kids and their friends to show off their masks
- Have a mask decorating contest to see who can come up with the funkiest design
8. PRACTICE OFTEN
My final tip for parents who are trying to figure out how to get kids to wear a face mask is to be consistent. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably really good at practicing new skills with your kids for a short period of time before losing interest and stamina. I think it’s human nature to do this, but if you want your kids to get comfortable with the idea of wearing a mask daily to daycare or school, consistency really is important. The more your child practices, the less likely he or she will fidget with his or her mask, which is an important factor in keeping him or her safe.
If you’re trying to figure out how to get kids to wear a face mask, I hope the tips and ideas in this post prove useful to you! Remember to be a good role model and normalize the idea of wearing masks as much as possible, to think outside the box and find ways to make face masks more tolerable to your little one, and to make it a fun experience wherever possible. Most of all, stay safe!