As a parent, you probably know how your kids can be little sponges when it comes to absorbing your emotions. Despite your best efforts to be as calm as possible about the COVID-19 pandemic, your children may have picked up on any nerves you understandably have.
As a result, they may be worried about your health as well as theirs and that of their beloved grandparents.
To talk with your kiddos about the pandemic — and also to communicate the importance of safety precautions with them, such as wearing a mask while in public — consider the following tips.
Reassurance and a Ready Listening Ear Go a Long Way
As the CDC notes, it is important to reassure your kids that they are safe. Tell them it’s okay to feel anxious or worried about this new virus and let them know they can always come to you with any questions or concerns.
Remember that kids will hear what you watch on TV, so think about keeping the channel to a kid’s show, sitcom or sporting event rather than the news when they’re within earshot.
For older kids, remind them that rumors are rampant on social media, so they should take most information from these sources with a grain of salt.
How to Speak With Kids About Face Masks
During your talks with your kids about the pandemic, you should also stress the importance of taking a number of safety precautions.
Some, like keeping their hands clean, are likely advice they’ve heard for years. Other safety measures, like the importance of wearing face masks, are new to kids.
How you approach the subject of masks depends on their ages. As Care.com notes, for a preschooler you can simply explain how you are washing your hands, wearing a mask, and staying apart from others so you can keep the germs away. or grade school and middle school kids, you might find a video that shows how respiratory droplets can travel from a mouth to a portion of a room.
For teens, you can explain how some people have COVID-19 with no symptoms, so it is extra important to wear a mask to prevent spreading the virus to other people.
Let Your Kids Choose Their Masks
If your kiddos are balking at the idea of wearing a mask, giving them some control of the situation may help. For instance, sit down with them and show them a number of kids’ face masks that are available online, and allow them to pick out the ones they like best.
Be sure to purchase masks that are made for smaller faces. For instance, the kids’ KN95 masks from Green Supply are specially designed for children. As a bonus, they come in a variety of fun colors like blue and hot pink.
Practice Makes Progress
You may not exactly enjoy wearing a mask, but you know it’s important. Now imagine being four years old and being told you have to wear one. Instead of waiting for the first day of in-person school or a trip to get a haircut to put a mask on your child, practice at home.
If your son wears his mask while watching a 30-minute cartoon or your daughter is encouraged to put it on while playing with toys, you should find that it gets easier for them over time.
To up the “fun” factor a bit, you can also play a game where you all wear your masks and then give prizes to whoever can go the longest, second longest, etc., without touching it, or who can put it on the fastest.
You’ve Got This!
Being a parent during a global pandemic comes with its own share of challenges. But by remaining as calm and supportive as you can, being there for your kids when they have questions and making mask-wearing as positive an experience as you can, you can rest assured you are doing everything possible to keep your little ones emotionally and physically healthy.