Wearing a mask in public may be new for children. To help reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID 19), the CDC is recommending everyone wear a face mask (not including children under 2). It is a good idea to acclimate children to face masks before asking them to wear one. Wear them around the house together. Make it part of a superhero “costume” and explain the similarities.
Children are often scared of masks, you may have seen this at Halloween. This is a normal fear for children. According to Roberto Olivardia, from Harvard Medical School, this fear is commonly known as “maskaphobia.” Children don’t always understand that a person is beneath the mask, so help introduce masks slowly in a comfortable setting. Read more tips on helping with face masks at this NY Times article: Children May Be Afraid of Masks. Here’s How to Help.
Another suggestion to help children understand the importance of face masks by reading stories. Reading together can help reduce anxieties and provide answers to questions children may have. At Dr. Day Care, one way that we help to model appropriate behaviors is with social stories.
We love this face mask story by Autism Little Learners. Download your copy by visiting Wearing a Face Mask Story for Children. There are also similar stories, such as the Seeing People Wearing Masks Story download and a video of someone reading the face mask story.
Stories about the changes children may be experiencing are also helpful at this time. Read the Social Story: My school changed after COVID-19 with children. Adapt it for your child or your classroom to help children make connections.
Social stories are a great way to communicate with children about sensitive topics.
Is your child scared of face masks? Have you asked them to wear one yet? What tips or advice can you share? Let us know in the comments!
- Social Story: My school changed after COVID-19
- Social Story: Masks and Gloves – also includes activity suggestions!
- Social Story: My School is Closed Right Now
- Social Story: My Parent is a Safekeeper
- Video: Time to Come In, Bear: A Children’s Story About Social Distancing
- Video: We Wear Masks – A Social Story about the coronavirus
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And make sure to check out our page on professional development resources! These resources can be found across the web by a variety of providers. Please pass this information along, our goal is support ALL child care educators. If you have any suggestions on training resources, please contact us.