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Adjusting to Face Masks

5 ways to encourage your child to wear a face mask

Adjusting to face masksAs more schools and districts work on re-opening plans for the hopeful return of students to in-person learning this Fall, it’s becoming clearer that a return to school may not mean a return to normal. With COVID-19 still looming, it’s critical that schools put in place some “best practices” for a safe return, with the health of students and staff as a top priority. One of the biggest recommendations during the re-opening phases has been wearing a cloth covering over your mouth and nose. Since wearing a mask can help stop the spread of COVID-19, as explained by the CDC, many schools are turning to this as a way to keep our school communities safe and healthy.

As adults, while we may understand the reason behind mask-wearing, it certainly takes some getting used to even for us! But what about children, and especially Complex Learners? Children might not be fully understanding what’s happening in the world so the idea of wearing a mask can seem unfamiliar and scary. For Complex Learners, many of who have sensory issues, wearing a mask can be uncomfortable and bothersome. Put those together and your child may be very resistant to wearing a mask.

If your child is being asked to wear a mask when he returns to school, you want him to feel confident and prepared come Fall. So, what can you do during summer break to help your Complex Learner get adjusted to wearing a mask? Check out our 5 recommendations below!

  1. Talk About Why

As a parent, you may want to protect your child from the scary news that has surrounded this pandemic. While we certainly don’t want you to frighten your child, we do encourage you to talk to him. Using appropriate language and encouraging your child to ask any questions he may have can help him to understand what’s happening. By understanding what’s going on in the world and explaining how wearing a mask can help to keep us all safe and healthy, your child may begin to be less fearful of masks. And working to eliminate the fear can be half the battle!

  1. Set an example

Whether your child is 6 or 16, he is watching what you do. You are setting an example and encouraging him to wear his mask every time you wear yours! So, whether you’re going grocery shopping or to pick up some pizza, be sure to wear your mask!

Make it a habit to have everyone in your family make sure they grab their mask before you leave the house. You can even look online and have everyone pick out a fun design mask of their choosing! For children with sensory issues, picking the right mask that’s comfortable and doesn’t pull or itch can make all of the difference!

  1. Practice

It takes time to get used to wearing a mask and even then, it still might feel strange. But the best thing we can do is practice! Encourage your child to wear his mask in different situations so he gets used to putting it on and wearing it for extended periods of time.

Next time he turns on his favorite television show have him put on his mask, even though he’ll just be sitting on the couch. By having it on while he’s distracted by something else (his favorite show), you are helping him get acclimated to it. When he’s distracted he might even forget that he’s wearing it!

  1. Reward small steps

It can take some time to build a tolerance to wearing a mask but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t celebrate every step along the way!

Be sure to praise your child whenever he wears the mask, for whatever amount of time! One of the best ways to prepare for schools to re-open this Fall is to work on your child’s comfort level with wearing a mask. Every small step is a win because that means he’s building his tolerance and will be feeling prepared and ready come September!

  1. Turn it into a game or a competition

While talk of COVID-19 is a serious subject, you can feel free to make practicing wearing a mask fun! If your child is younger, practice wearing masks by playing doctor or nurse. If your child is older, turn it into a competition and see who can wear their mask the longest – whoever wins gets to pick what’s for dinner!

Get creative and see if your child has any fun game ideas or suggestions!

While there’s no guarantee what this Fall will bring, the best thing you and your child can do is be prepared for as much as possible! Getting your child to wear a mask can seem like a daunting task but with patience and practice – you’ll get there!

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