Steps to motivate, encourage children to wear masks

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On Thursday, masks will be mandatory in Marion County and that will impact a lot of people, including kids over the age of two.
For parents, that also means making sure kids understand what to do and why. Doctors say helping kids wear masks starts with parents modeling the right behavior. 

“The importance of keeping your mask up. It is hard because kids don’t like the mask over their nose, which is understandable. You know it is hot, it is uncomfortable. But just keep encouraging them,” said Emilia Rodriguez-Corbin. She is a mother of four, with a baby on the way and said despite any difficulties, wearing masks is a must. “I work at a hospital myself, so I do a lot of talking to my kids, educating. So they do know about the coronavirus and how it is important to wear a mask when we are out in public places,” said Rodriguez-Corbin.

Doctors at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health said parents should help kids understand that wearing a mask protects other people and why we are doing it. They also recommend using YouTube videos as a resource and said parents can demonstrate how to use the mask, with their child’s favorite doll or bear. This will enable children to practice and feel more comfortable. The best thing parents can do is model the right behavior and stay positive.

“The biggest thing we can do is set a good example for our kids. That it is appropriate to wear a mask. And letting them know when we need to wear a mask and when it is okay to the mask off,” said Dr Adam Karcz, the director of Infection Prevention at Riley Hospital for Children. “The biggest thing is consistency with children. They are going to be scared, this is a new experience for them that may not be comfortable. But, I think a large part of it comes with positivity with wearing a mask. If we are not positive when we are wearing a mask, kids follow that and kids follow our examples and they will be more reluctant to put a mask on.”

Doctors said no kids under the age of two should wear a mask because it can be a choking hazard. For younger children, there are child-size masks. They recommend all masks fit well, by going over the nose and under the chin, and making sure the sides are somewhat snug.

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Parents should also make wearing a mask fun. Doctors suggest getting creative with the designs or colors and allowing kids to get involved by picking out their mask.
Parents said it’s a struggle, but don’t give up.

 “I just tell her ‘Hey, we have to put it on.’ You know? She may kind of complain a little bit, but for the most part, she is really pretty good about it,” said Rodriguez-Corbin.