July 23, 2020 by Katie Smentek, MD

Wearing a mask properly is a new skill for children to learn. Helping kids learn to wear a mask is like a lot of other things we teach our kids such as brushing their teeth, sitting in a car seat and washing their hands.

While many children will not have trouble wearing masks, there are things parents can do to help such as the 30-day Plan to Help Kids Learn to Mask developed by Garland Gail Youngblood, M.D. 

Click here for the 30-day Plan to Help Kids Learn to Mask 

Click here for a KEYC News Now video on masking. 

We can empower children by teaching them that when they wear a mask they can keep their friends, grandparents and teachers safe. Evidence show that masks prevent the spread of germs when people talk, sing, yell, cough and sneeze. The plan offers a daily guide families can follow to help their children find masks that fit comfortably and adjust to wearing a mask for longer periods of time. 

One of the best ways to help children wear masks is to lead by example and keep a positive attitude. Be understanding and motivate your children with praise and rewards as thy are mastering this new skill. 

Above all, listen to your child’s concerns. If your child complains of shortness of breath while wearing a mask, talk with your pediatrician. Never force your child to wear a mask. Children under 2 years of age should not wear a mask. 

For children who are struggling with wearing a mask, Mankato Clinic Children’s Health Center and Family Medicine offers behavioral health services and easy access to a mental health professional who can help children cope with wearing a face mask. To learn more, meet Crystal Dubbelde, MSW, LISW, who brings behavioral health services to the Children’s Health Center.