How to get your kids used to wearing masks
Choice and play important in normalizing new practice, says health-care consultant
This is part of a series from CBC's Information Morning where Halifax health-care consultant Mary Jane Hampton discusses her "health hacks" — ways to make your experience with the health-care system better.
Learning how to properly wash your hands and don a mask have become essential life skills, but getting kids used to this new reality can be a challenge.
The province has made exemptions to the rule that takes effect on Friday for children under two, and children up to four if their caregivers cannot get them to co-operate.
Health-care consultant Mary Jane Hampton says it will take time for kids to pick up this new practice, and she's encouraging parents to lead by example and gently introduce regular mask-wearing ahead of September.
"We need to get kids ready for this," Hampton told CBC's Information Morning.
"It's of the utmost importance that we don't leave the normalizing of masks, and even the introduction of masks, to things that teachers and school bus drivers need to be dealing with."
The first step is choosing the type of mask your child wears.
Hampton said if you're going the reusable route, it's best to have a few masks on hand so you can make sure the one your child is wearing is clean.
Letting kids have a say in the design of the mask might make them more willing to try it on, she said.
"Give them an opportunity to customize them to make them a reflection of who they are so that it's less of an imposition and more of a personal statement," Hampton said.
Education Department officials have said masks will be provided for students who do not have one.
Parents can teach proper mask use by wearing masks themselves, and also involving masks in kids' playtime, Hampton said.
"Have a couple of extra masks on hand so that they can be role playing by putting them on their teddy bears and their dolls," she said.
If your child is still resistant to a mask, Hampton had there are some creative tricks parents can use, including adding buttons to the back of a baseball cap so the mask stays in place.
Tying the mask to a lanyard that can be worn around the child's neck is another good way to make sure the masks don't end up lost or dropped to the ground, she said.
She said it's also important to remind kids that wearing a mask should always accompany regular and proper hand washing.
"I think that once again children are going to surprise us," Hampton said. "I think that they're going to be the ones that feel that this is actually no big deal."
With files from CBC's Information Morning