Kids have a new item on their school supply list this year: Masks. Love them or hate them, they are going to be with us for a while. Dr. Sandra Clark, pediatric psychologist, and Erin Adams, pediatric occupational therapist, both with Quincy Medical Group, have these tips to offer to help your children adjust to wearing masks.
- Practice, practice, practice! Practice not only wearing the mask to get used to wearing it but also practice putting it on and taking it off to improve independence with this skill.
- Talk to your children about why they are wearing their masks — to keep themselves and others safe from germs!
- Practice wearing for short periods of time and slowly increase to longer durations. Work on this now, while able to do so at home. Utilize distractions and rewards if necessary to keep the experience positive.
- If your child finds wearing the mask to be uncomfortable, have them participate in heavy proprioceptive based activities while wearing a mask to help them decrease distressful sensations. Examples: animal walks, wheelbarrow, crawling, etc.
- Mark the inside of the mask with the child’s initials or star so when they remove their mask to eat/drink they put it back on with the exposed side out.
- Masks are currently available in a variety of styles, patterns, and character prints. Try to find one that your child will find appealing and comfortable. The gaiter style masks are easy for children to put on, take off, and keep track of as they hang gently around their neck when not in use.
- Consider providing your child with multiple options of masks. Simply providing a choice may make it more likely that they will comply with wearing one, but your child may also appreciate a change in texture or visual print that positively impacts their sensory experience.
- Provide a great deal of praise and/or reinforcement any time your child wears his or her mask!