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Back to School With a Mask

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Change is hard to get used to. But, with a little effort, you can adapt to many new things. One example of a big change is the way schools are running these days. They offer a completely different experience from what we are used to. Children must wear a school mask if they want to go to class.

Here’s how you can help your child get used to wearing a mask to school.

1. Beat the Fear

Facial coverings are designed to keep people safe, but they also hide a person’s face. This can be intimidating for a child. Children rely on their facial expressions to communicate. However, with a face mask, they can’t see the familiar faces and friendly smiles. This is unnatural and scary for them. These tips will help beat the fear.

Help the Child Get Accustomed to Masks

Wearing a facial covering can be difficult for a young child, even in short bursts. Therefore, practice becomes a key strategy. Ask the child to practice wearing the facial covering before they go outside. Teach them how to take it off and put it back on.

Share the importance of wearing a mask so that the child will realize why they are doing it. With regular wear, the struggle subsides, and they get used to it through routine.

Add a Personal Touch

Children need to feel comfortable with a face mask. Encouraging them to decorate is the best way to give them a sense of ownership. Tell your child to draw, put stickers, or bedazzle the mask. With it, they can show their creative side and obtain some level of control. They can also put their name on it so others know who they’re speaking to!

Introduce Playfulness

Fear can be a real setback. But, making the mask a fun experience can add an additional layer of safety. For example, play pretend with your child. Ask them to be a nurse or a doctor and to wear a mask while they care for you or a stuffed animal. Relying on “doctor kits” and favorite toys can be a great way of helping a child relax.

Implement a Sense of Security

Impulsive children tend to act without thinking. They may pull off the mask when they argue with friends without even realizing it. To fix the problem, apply a breakaway lanyard to the elastic strap of the mask. So, even if the child pulls the mask off, it won’t be lost and the facial covering will remain on their person. This can be used as a reminder for the child to put the mask back on.

Note: Do not create fear when a child wears a mask. Try to present it as a new but important habit for keeping themselves healthy during the pandemic. If you take a positive approach, the child is more likely to follow your example.

2. Find the Perfect Fit

Here is how to find a mask that will fit a child’s face.

Comfortable but Snug Fit

The mask must comfortably wrap around the child’s nose and mouth. There shouldn’t be any openings or loose ends. A poor fit will only encourage the child to use their hands to readjust the mask, exposing them to dangerous pathogens and contamination.

Smaller Size

Look for children’s masks designed to cover a smaller face. They must go over the nose and cover each side of the face. With adequate adjustment, there will be no fogging on their glasses.

No Pain

When the straps are too tight, they can hurt the back of the ears and the nose. A comfortable face mask doesn’t put that much pressure on these points. It doesn’t leave a mark or cause redness of the skin.

The Right Material

The mask is supposed to feature 3 to 4 textured cotton layers. Anything more than that will be too thick and cause trouble breathing. Fewer layers create bigger chances for exposure. So, opt for tightly-woven material with enough layering.

Safety

Do not use any small decorations or straps that may pose a choking hazard. It’s critical that the mask uses only comfortable materials to be safe to use.

3. Overcome the Sensory Issues

A child with sensory processing difficulties will have trouble tolerating the closeness, smell, and feel of a mask. This creates extreme discomfort and forces them to fiddle with the covering. That’s why children result to meltdowns, because they are trying to communicate discomfort. This is where small-dose practice helps.

Create a Custom Mask

By taking the child’s sensitivities into account, you can make your own face mask. Some parents tend to use the child’s old T-shirts. The pattern, material, and smell can be very comfortable. It provides reassurance for those who can’t get used to commercial facial coverings.

Consider Alternatives

If the child still can’t tolerate a face mask, relying on alternatives can prove useful. Products like face shields are a great way to protect their health. Also, using a Plexiglass divider in smaller rooms can give children their necessary break from wearing a face mask. It can boost their focus and help them get accustomed to wearing a facial covering.

4. Adjusting the Face Mask

The mask is constantly exposed to droplets and hazardous pathogens. When a child sneezes or coughs, the material acts as a barrier against these pathogens. But, it’s not a total method of protection. The eyes are still vulnerable and exposed to the virus. If the child doesn’t adjust the mask properly, they risk transferring the infection from their hands into their body.

Before and after a child touches the mask, they should wash their hands with soap and water. This will help get rid of the germs and avoid infections.

The safest way to readjust the facial covering is to hold the mask by the ear loops—one hand on each side. The face mask should completely cover the mouth and nose. There shouldn’t be any gaps between the skin and the face mask. The same tactic can be used when removing the face mask.

 

References

https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/choosing-starting-school/back-to-school/trouble-wearing-mask

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/coronavirus-masks.html

https://www.ualberta.ca/alberta-respiratory-centre/media-library/back-to-school-with-a-mask-printable-8.pdf

https://www.groupeproxim.ca/en/article/adjusting-removing-and-cleaning-your-face-mask#

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