With the lifting of the circuit breaker from 2 June, 2020, children will gradually return to their pre-schools and early intervention centres for their lessons. To prepare your child to return to school, SPD’s psychologist Jeremy Ang shares some tips on how parents can encourage their children to wear a mask.
Tips for parents:
- It is important for parents to acknowledge that the child can be feeling anxious and fearful of wearing a mask as it is something new for them.
- Start where your child is most comfortable at, and make sure that the mask is fitted according to your child’s size. You can also try different materials to see which is most comfortable with your child.
- When leaving the house, adults can make a purposeful or emphasised demonstration of wearing a mask to make it look like a routine. Parents can say “Before leaving the house, I must wear a mask. I like wearing a mask”.
- Take as much time as you need on the following ideas. The goal is to get your child to be more comfortable in wearing a mask by gradually exposing them to handling or wearing the mask.
Ideas to try out:
- Show pictures of favourite cartoons wearing a mask (if you are able to find them online).
- Get your child to hold and bring the mask from one area of the house to another (e.g. from living room to your room). The aim is for your child to get more comfortable in handling the mask.
- Pack the mask as part of your child’s personal space/belonging (e.g. in the child’s bag, pouch, toy storage, child’s cupboard etc)
- Start your child on the “going out routine”. Parents can say “before leaving house, we need to wear a mask”. Put on shoes then put on the mask
- Encourage your child to decorate the mask by using stickers, drawings, or print-outs of their favourite cartoon. This can be done to make the interaction with the mask fun (not as a decorative mask to wear out).
- Purchase a cotton mask sleeve with your child’s favourite theme. Some of these masks have slots for the insertion of surgical masks.
- Ask your child to put on a mask for adults or on soft toys.
Mullins, L. & Simpson, S. (2005). Systematic desensitization with children and adolescents. In M. Hersen., J. Rosqvist., & A. M. Gross (Eds.), Encyclopedia of behavior modification and cognitive behavior therapy (pp. 1062-1065). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781412950534.n2127