Wearing a mask is TOUGH for adults and kids. But, in our current situation it is imperative. Before we go any further, it is important to note that children aged 5 and younger or those that cannot otherwise take off a mask without help SHOULD NOT wear a mask.
As many of you know, our younger son has cerebral palsy. While he can physically take on and off a mask, he does NOT like to wear one. But due to increased risks, it was very important that he learn to wear one. We have spent the last few weeks helping him learn to wear a mask and several folks have reached out to ask me how we did this, so I've put together a quick list of tips that helped us help him.
Before you start the tips on this list, you may want to check out this video we made explaining to children why it's important to wear masks.
Lastly, I do want to be clear that while Jonah is doing really well at wearing his mask and at using self regulation strategies to know when he should put it on (when he sees someone outside coming near our family) and when to take it off, he is still only wearing a mask shorter periods of time. (20 minutes maybe solid and up to 1 hour if we are outdoors where he will take it on and off when he sees others)
I'm not sure that it is developmentally appropriate for young children to be expected to wear a mask all day without touching it. After all, it is difficult for them to even wear a bracelet, necklace, or literally anything at school without playing with it. This is just how kid's brain's work. All young children are impulsive to a degree. It's what makes them kids... but with this type of illness, this impulsivity is also what makes them vulnerable. So, from a public health stand point, I'm not sure what the answer is about masks in schools. But what I can say is that if you do these things with your children. If you explain why, model wearing a mask with them, and keep it as stress free and fun as possible (almost like a game), they can learn to wear a mask while you are in an environment where they may be exposed to others. And that is so very important for your child's health and the health of others.
Tough questions, friends... with no easy answers. I hope these tips help you like they have our family. Praying you are each safe, well, and happy today. xoxo- Allison