Help your kids get used to wearing face masks

The first outbreak of COVID-19 was reported at the beginning of 2020. Now, just six months later, we are only beginning to get to grips with this new disease. COVID-19 has changed so many aspects of our lives, in such a short space of time, that it can be hard to keep up.

How to help your children understand, wear, take off and take care of their cloth masks.

The first outbreak of COVID-19 was reported at the beginning of 2020. Now, just six months later, we are only beginning to get to grips with this new disease. COVID-19 has changed so many aspects of our lives, in such a short space of time, that it can be hard to keep up.

This is doubly true for children. Kids crave routine; order and structure enable long-term patterns of learning. A national lockdown, in which their daily order is reimagined overnight, and a new social reality, where social distancing is compulsory, can cause significant uncertainty in young and older kids.

“Masks are a major part of our new reality" says Yolanda Walsh, Nursing Odyssey Programme Manager. "It is important to use and wear them with care, and to limit how often you touch them, or you risk contaminating them and making them a hazard.”

The challenge, she says, is that kids are not adults. “Younger children may have dirty hands from play, they’re fidgety, and they don’t always understand the need to wear a mask, and to wear them correctly and consistently. And so parents play a vital role in educating their kids in how and why to wear these new masks.”

COVID-19 is spread through droplets from someone who is infected and coughing or sneezing; or contact: touching a surface that is contaminated and then touching your face, specifically your eyes, nose or mouth.

In the hospital environment, however, when a child is admitted to a Mediclinic facility, consideration of their age, level of anxiety and degree of respiratory distress will be taken into account before routinely expecting that they wear a mask.

If the mask would increase their distress, or they are crying and fighting the mask, the risk of spread will increase and they will not be forced to wear a mask. The accompanying parent must be involved in the decision whether the child could wear a mask and in reassuring the child.