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How to Get a Toddler to Wear a Mask at School

How to Get a Toddler to Wear a Mask at School

As summer swiftly draws to a close, we are hearing quite a buzz in the media around kids wearing masks at school. Whether your child’s school district is requiring your kiddo to mask up, or if you’re just hoping to do your part to keep others safe, there are ways to help make wearing a mask less of a battle.

#1. Explain the “why” behind masks.

Kids (even toddlers) are far more likely to comply with a rule when they understand a reason why it’s in place. Take the time to explain to your child that they must wear masks at school so they don’t spread germs and can keep other people safe. Make them understand that wearing a mask is a nice thing to do for their friends.

#2. Model the behavior you wish to see.

If you have not been wearing a mask yourself but expect your child to put one on without question, you may encounter some opposition. When children are expected to engage in a certain behavior, especially if it can be somewhat annoying or uncomfortable, it’s always helpful to model that behavior yourself. Make it a habit in your household for everyone to put your masks on before going into crowded areas, etc., so your child does not feel as if they are the only ones in the family who must comply with this rule. Also, if they constantly are hearing “but do kids have to wear masks at school?” or “should kids wear masks at school?” they will adopt the same questioning sentiment. The best way to get your toddler on board is for you to appear on board as well.

#3. Make it fun.

Kid’s disposable face masks may be practical given how often they may be lost, but masks for school kids don’t have to be boring. Ditch the plain colored fabrics and jazz things up a bit with fun patterns or your kiddo’s favorite cartoon characters. Some cool face masks designs we’ve seen recently included a Paw Patrol crochet pattern (over a solid fabric mask) and one made to look like Spider Man’s mouth. Other mask ideas we’ve seen included a DIY mask that your child can draw on and customize themselves. Remember, at the end of the day the best kids masks for school are the ones they will actually wear.

#4. Incentivize.

Rewarding good behavior works wonders in virtually every arena. Why not put the same contingencies in place for wearing a mask? In addition to frequent praise for properly wearing the mask, discuss different prizes you can give your child for wearing it all day (or week) at school. Remember, whenever you are instituting a new reward system, keep the reward equal to the amount of effort it requires for your child to complete the task. For example: if your child struggles to keep the mask on for even short periods of time, start small: “you can get an m&m if you keep your mask on for 30 min!”. If your child is accustomed to mask-wearing but still needs that extra help, increase the goal: “If you keep your mask on all day/week, we can get ice cream after school”.