DENVER (KDVR) — As some districts prepare for in-person learning and students prepare to wear masks during the school day, a pediatrician offers tips to help kids keep their masks on.
Dr. Jessica Cataldi is a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She said it is important to explain to kids, even young kids, the importance of wearing a mask.
“We wear masks to keep people safe and younger kids usually have a strong sense of empathy about that so I think it’s useful to explain the reasoning,” said Dr. Cataldi.
Dr. Cataldi said it is important for children to practice wearing masks before the first day of school.
“Help kids get used to the idea and really start to see it as something normal, something that’s part of our every day lives,” said Dr. Cataldi.
As a way to practice, Dr. Cataldi suggests kids wear masks on walks around the neighborhood.
“It’s a good time to practice. Put that mask on for a 10-15 minute walk to get used to it. Kids can see what it feels like to wear a face covering, what it feels like to breathe in it when they’re moving around,” said Dr. Cataldi.
Dr. Cataldi said parents can help kids get used to masks by pointing out people wearing masks on TV or other children’s media.
“That’s always useful if you can point out role models of those children or even cartoons. Some kids media and books are trying to showing more pictures and images that appeal to children, showing images of characters they are used to seeing wearing face coverings or masks,” said Dr. Cataldi.
To help kids get excited about wearing masks or face coverings, Dr. Cataldi suggests letting your kids pick out or design a mask that speaks to them.
“Is your kid really creative? And is there something you can do to help them choose the design that’s on their mask? Or even design their own mask? Maybe there is fabric they can draw on and have a mask that’s really their own personality,” said Dr. Cataldi.
Students returning for in-person learning will have to wear masks for long periods of time. Dr. Cataldi said it will be challenging to keep kids from touching their masks. Parents should get their kids to wash their hands frequently to offset touching their masks.
“You probably aren’t going to get 100 percent success with younger kids in getting them not to touch their masks but making sure you’re still doing a really good hand washing as frequently during the school day,” said Dr. Cataldi.