For the past year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we go about our daily lives. From virtual learning to mask mandates, there have been many changes to how we interact. New science and studies on the virus are coming out frequently, and it looks like masks are here to stay. Kids with autism or sensory processing issues can have difficulty tolerating wearing masks on their faces. Parents may worry about their child’s ability to keep their masks on during the school day. Here are some tips to help encourage your child to wear their mask.
Have a Conversation
The first step in introducing a new thing is to talk to your child first. Masks are different, and they hide part of the face, so some children may even be worried or scared of them. Allow your child to ask questions about masks, such as why we wear them or what they feel like, and use explanations appropriate for their age. It may also help to let your child see you wearing a mask so they can model your behavior.
Decorate the Mask
Have your child create, decorate, or pick their own mask. If the mask is something they are interested in, they may be more inclined to wear it. For example, your child can incorporate their favorite cartoon character into their decorations. By having some control in the process, your child will be more at ease and more motivated to wear a mask.
Reinforce Good Behavior
Allow your child to play with their mask and get used to it inside before leaving the house with it. Even if they only wear it for 30 seconds, you want to provide your child with reinforcement. The reinforcement must be very motivating and important to them. For example, you can use a piece of candy, a particular book or toy, anything that will motivate your child to want to wear the mask. Your goal is to get your child to wear the mask more frequently each time, and the only way to do that is to provide something that is reinforcing to them.
Consistency is Key
When learning a new habit or skill, consistency is essential to ensuring that your child wears their mask. They need to know that the mask must be worn any time you leave the house or anytime you have to get out of the car to be near others. Make sure you have the reinforcers on hand so you can reinforce their behavior as soon as you get back.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.