I’ve seen a lot of posts recently from parents asking for advice on how to get their little ones to keep their masks on.
Now, this is NOT A DEBATE over whether or not masks work or if we should or shouldn’t be wearing them. You can take that debate elsewhere. This is simply some tips on how to help get your kids used to wearing a mask and keep them on.
Whatever your stance is on masks, with the world we’re living in right now, chances are, you’re going to be in a situation (even if it’s just the doctor’s office) where your child needs to wear a mask.
This is just my advice on what has worked for us!
We pretty much treat masks the way we would treat helmets or car seats.
*Post contains affiliate links.
1. It’s a Non Negotiable Rule
Wearing a helmet is a rule. Sitting in an appropriate car seat is a rule. And now, wearing a mask is a rule.
Guys, my kids are far from perfect. They push boundaries and don’t listen to everything I say (although we work on it!). I don’t want you to think that my kids follow every single rule I make, easy as pie.
However, they would never, ever, think to question me when I tell them they have to wear a helmet or sit in a car seat because they know it is a safety issue.
We treat masks the same way; we wear them for safety. And while they don’t necessarily protect my children, my children wearing them helps to protect others.
2. Acknowledge Their Feelings
Just because it’s a rule doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, especially for younger children.
It can be scary to wear a mask and see everyone out in public wearing masks.
You can say something like “I know it feels different to wear a mask and it’s OK to feel sad/scared/nervous about it. We will get used to it together.”
You could even go as far as to make masks for their stuffed animals or dolls to help them realize it isn’t scary.
3. Ensure a Proper Fit
Just like you’d make sure a helmet is comfortable and fits properly, you need to do the same thing with a mask.
My mom made masks for my kids and the first few she made were too small. This made them fall down, which made us tighten them too much and it was overall uncomfortable.
Once she got a bigger pattern and made them a bit bigger, it was MUCH easier for them to keep them up.
4. Lead by Example
This one is important.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see a family out riding bikes with the kids wearing helmets and the adults not wearing them. For the love, you aren’t invincible!
You don’t have to lie and pretend that wearing a mask is the bees knees.
I straight up tell my kids that wearing a mask is not my favorite but that I do it with a happy heart because it helps to protect people and stop the spread of the coronavirus.
5. Find One They Can Put On Independently
Help your kids learn how to take their masks on and off independently.
I imagine it’s pretty scary to have a face mask on without the ability to take it off yourself. Work with your children on putting them on and taking them off by themselves.
Also, make sure that they know your rule for taking them off! You might want them to have to ask permission, or you might allow them to take them off as soon as you’ve reached the car and applied hand sanitizer.
To prevent getting germs on your mask, you should always wash your hands thoroughly or apply hand sanitizer before taking it off!
6. Make Them Part of the Decision
Let your kids help choose what color and style their mask is. Try to find them with their favorite characters or animals.
Since my mom made our masks, we let the kids pick out what they wanted their theme to be. Margo chose flamingos, Josie chose unicorns, and Theo chose cheetahs.
We also let them try on different styles. We tried the most common kind that goes over the ear, as well as ones that go around their head and you tighten with a zip tie.
The kind that goes around the back of their heads is easier for the girls because it avoids having two things over their ears with their glasses.
It’s going to take some getting used to. Start slowly with your practice.
First, try a walk around the neighborhood. If that goes well, try running a small errand with them (but be prepared to leave if they don’t keep their mask on).
8. Different Strokes for Different Folks
Haha. Did anyone else’s parents say that to them growing up?
I always tell my kids that different families have different rules, and that’s OK!
Your children might notice that not everyone keeps their mask on and want to know why they have to keep theirs on when other people don’t.
My kids actually haven’t asked that, I think because they are confident that they are doing the right thing by wearing their mask.
But, they have asked why others aren’t following the rules (whether it’s not wearing masks or adhering to social distancing).
We have explained to them that not everyone can wear a mask due to health reasons and that it’s not our job to worry about other people and enforce the rules.
Our job is to simply do our best to follow the rules.
Where to Buy Kids Face Masks
My mom experimented with probably 4 different patterns before we found one that really worked for my kids. She did not use their special fabric until we knew that the mask style was going to work.
These face masks from Target have good reviews and are $4 for a 2-pack. Check them out below:
The face masks from Old Navy also have great reviews and come in a variety of colors and patterns. They are $12.50 for a 5-pack or $7.50 for a 3-pack.
Please note that for sanitary reasons, masks cannot be returned and are a final purchase.
The masks that ended up working the best for my kids was the Olson mask for kids. There are lots of tutorials if you simply google Olson face mask for kids.
The fasteners below are what we used to fasten the masks. Theo preferred the regular strap over the ear, but Josie and Margo both preferred this type of fastener because it worked better with their glasses.
You can purchase the little toggle fasteners by clicking on the pictures below.
I hope that this was helpful, and I REALLY HOPE that we don’t have to continue to wear masks for much longer!
But if we do, hopefully this at least makes it a bit easier for your little ones.