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OSF Pediatrician Shares Tips For Getting Mask-Wearing Buy-In From Your Kids

Samina Yousuf
OSF HealthCare
Dr. Samina Yousuf is an OSF HealthCare pediatrician in Bloomington.

Parenting during the pandemic isn’t easy. But here’s a sliver of good news: You’ve got about the perfect amount of time left to get your kiddos comfortable with wearing a mask before they go to school.

That’s according to Dr. Samina Yousuf, an OSF HealthCare pediatrician in Bloomington.

“We have about a month before school starts, and I think this is an ideal time,” Yousuf said. “Whenever you start something new, you don’t want to be soon before they have to do that, and you don’t want to be too late. A month is about the perfect time.”

For those parents opting to send their kids to school in-person, masks will be required all day, with few exceptions.

Yousuf said a good first step toward getting buy-in from your child on mask-wearing is to make sure they understand the why. Explain it to them in developmentally appropriate ways, she said. You can use words like “germs” for little kids, she said. Older kids can handle more complex concepts, Yousuf said, like how some people with COVID-19 don’t feel any different—and that’s why masks are so important.

“Our kids are really very astute and very smart,” Yousuf said. “They already know there’s something different this time compared to before all of this started.”

Yousuf has a lot of practical tips for parents, including:

  • Give your child a say on the style and design of their mask. One family at Yousuf’s office even made a mask out of a child’s favorite old T-shirt.
  • Keep an extra mask in their backpack so they can make a quick change if they get to school and suddenly aren’t feeling like sporting The Avengers or Snoopy.
  • Make a small mask for a child’s stuffed animal to make it more fun.

Yousuf recommends practicing with the mask at home, and for younger kids, even offering small rewards as the child gets used to wearing it.
“Gradually, maybe having them wear it for this long and that long,” she said. “Maybe they can get a sticker chart or they could get tokens or whatever reinforcement the parents use, this would be a really good one to reinforce.”

You can hear the rest of Yousuf’s interview below:

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