Explaining to kids why a mask is needed

Posted at 3:50 PM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 10:54:51-04

BOISE, Idaho — Back to school will look and feel much different for most kids this fall due to COVID-19, especially for those who will be learning in-person. They will need masks to keep themselves and other students safe.

"You have to explain to kids, why they're wearing a mask and that can be kind of difficult for especially the toddlers," said Dr. Michael Kore, a pediatrician at Bronson Primary Care Partners.

Wearing face masks inside public spaces, including schools, is a sign of the times during the ongoing pandemic. Parents will have to make sure their kids have them if they are going back, and it might be a tough sell to some kids.

"Under the age of three, the kids don't really have a good feeling of why they're wearing a mask," said Dr. Kore. "So parents just say, you know, wear the mask while we're doing it, do it because we want to protect you and we love you."

Dr. Kore says how you talk to your kids about masks should be age-appropriate.

"Kids three- to four- and five-years-old, you can start to talk about germs, that germs are out there, that we all have germs," said Dr. Kore. "And then we want to protect ourselves and our children from other people's germs. And we want to make sure that our germs don't go to other people. And once they understand that, I think they can be a little bit more compliant. It may help them in getting them to wear their masks."

Leading by example is another way to get your kids on board. If they see you wearing one, they will wear one. Making it fun can also get you the right result.

"They can play games with masks, for instance, you can put the masks on the parents and the children and then look in the mirror and look how we look, look at ourselves," said Dr. Kore. "You can put a mask on a doll or an animal."

The idea is to make kids feel more comfortable wearing masks, so when school rolls around, it is not an issue.

"I think parents can take a large step forward, ensuring their children are critically the lowest risk group for the COVID infection," said Dr. Kore. And the reason that we think parents can tell their children to wear masks, is to protect themselves because it does go both ways if you can some kids can protect themselves and protect other people by wearing a mask. But you know this one, one step that we can take in being a good neighbor."

As the new school year approaches, some parents are having second thoughts about sending their kids back to class, opting for online school instead.