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8 Ways to Help Kids Adjust to Face Masks

A pediatrician gives advice on what you should relay to your customers as back-to-school season approaches.

By now you’ve probably witnessed customers battling their children to wear a face mask in your store—or perhaps you’ve experienced the struggle firsthand with your own little ones. Either way, it’s helpful to understand proper strategies for making mask-wearing fun for kids, instead of a fight.

“We need to normalize mask wearing–just like we do with other good habits,” says Dr. Andrea White, a pediatrician with UnityPoint Health. “This is true for all age groups–even the very youngest of kids. For example, my daughter was not a big fan of pants when she was two years old, but we got over that hurdle with persistent messaging!”

Dr. White suggests these eight strategies for making mask-wearing easy-peasy before kids are off to school:

  • Be Consistent: Stick with a constant message and include gentle reminders about not touching the outside of the mask.
  • Explain Why: Even very young kids will understand masks are important to help keep everyone safe.
  • Personalize: Let the child pick out kid-friendly masks with characters and cool designs. (Check Earnshaw’s Mask Market for fresh styles!)
  • Take a Picture: Snap a photo of the child in a mask and reinforce how awesome they look.
  • Practice at Home: Get the whole family involved in practicing mask-wearing for a day—or a few hours—just to get the hang of it.
  • Use Masks in Play: Put masks on stuffed animals or dolls during play time.
  • See Masks in Action: Show children other people wearing masks on the streets or in stores.
  • Identify Good Behavior: Point out people who are doing a good job wearing their masks properly.

*Bonus Tip – Extra masks are essential!

“There are endless scenarios where kids will gunk up masks, either by sneezing, coughing, dropping it on the bathroom floor, touching it with messy hands, the list goes on,” Dr. White adds. “The other day, I removed a face mask to check a patient’s mouth and the inside was covered with the remnants of a sucker!”

Dr. White recommends that parents keep a supply of back-up masks on hand. That said, if you’re a retailer selling masks, suggest that customers buy in bundles. No one wants to get caught in a messy mask emergency!

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