COVID-19: Wearing Masks Properly Is New Skill for Children to Learn
Mankato Clinic pediatrician recommends 30-day plan to teach children to wear masks
(Mankato—July 23, 2020) In light of Minnesota’s statewide mask mandate, children are expected to wear masks in indoor public places and schools. Learning to mask properly is a skill that parents and caregivers can help their children learn at home.
“While many children will not have trouble wearing a mask, 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.,” said Dr. Katie Smentek, Mankato Clinic pediatrician and board member of the Minnesota chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Smentek explained that families can empower children by teaching them that when they wear a mask they can help keep their friends, grandparents and teachers safe. Evidence show that masks can prevent the spread of COVID-19 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 practice wearing masks for longer periods of time.
“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. We can help children adjust to wearing masks for extended periods of time, make sure the mask is covering their nose and mouth and practice removing and storing masks properly. As children get used to wearing masks, parents will notice their children are touching and adjusting the masks less often,” Dr. Smentek said.
She also reminds parents that one of the best ways to help children wear masks is to lead by example and keep a positive attitude. She encourages parents to be understanding and motivate children with praise and rewards as they are mastering this new skill.
“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 face mask,” Dr. Smentek said. “Washing our hands, wearing a mask and social distancing are simple things we can all do to protect each other.”
For children 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 covering.
About Mankato Clinic
In 1916, Mankato Clinic was founded in Mankato by five area physicians who believed that a comprehensive, multi-specialty group practice offered the best means of providing quality health care to the residents of southern Minnesota. Mankato Clinic has grown to over 150 physicians and practitioners and employs over 800 people and is one of the only physician owned and led medical facilities in the state of Minnesota.