Mask Wearing for Kids

Tips & Tricks on Encouraging Mask Wearing for Young Children

By Katie Souliere, RN, June 18, 2020

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) recommends children over 2 years of age to wear a mask when physical distancing may not be possible. This begs the question of how can we make sure our youngest adhere to this? It can feel daunting to manage this expectation when our kids refuse to even get dressed most days! 

OPH knows that convincing younger kids - between ages 2 and 8 years especially – to wear a mask in public may not always be feasible. Kids are notorious for their germ spreading habits, such as nose-picking, booger wiping and eye rubbing. So how can we as parents encourage this new behaviour in our youngest? Below are some tips and tricks to assist you. 

Explain why:

Kids watch, listen and learn. Explaining the importance of mask wearing in simple terms can help them understand why wearing a mask is important. Allow them to ask questions and express their feelings. You may want to start by reading a bit on how to help children cope with stressful public events to give you some guidance. 

Give choices: 

Consider letting your little(s) ones choose their mask pattern and/or colour. Kids like to feel independent and being given choices. If you are able, include your child in selecting a cloth mask of their choice. 

Include masks in imaginative play: 

Young children are amazingly imaginative. Include a few non-medical cloth masks in their playtime and see what they come up with. Having masks present in their environment will let them become more comfortable to the look and feel of masks. 

Set an example: 

When heading out in public, show your kids how you put on your mask, explain why you are doing it – to protect those around you. Be a role model of the behaviours you are hoping to imprint on your youngest. Kids absorb information so quickly and mirror behaviours they see, especially of their care takers. 

The world can feel scary to young kids when everyone around them is wearing masks. It can take time and some getting used to. OPH is so grateful to be amongst a community of people who care so deeply about one another, especially the well-being of our children. 

Here are a few resources to help you navigate this difficult time:

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