Teaching Your Child How to Wear a Mask | Jennifer Khumarga, M.S., BCBA from Enreach Behavioral Services| Kinderkloud

Teaching Your Child How to Wear a Mask

photo by tima miroshnichenko from pexels

With the ongoing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health strongly urges the public to follow health protocols, including wearing a mask, washing hands, social distancing, vaccination, avoiding crowds, and restricting mobility. There has been many evidence showing that mask wearing reduces the spread of COVID-19. Mask wearing is also mandated by the government when going to public places. However, it might be difficult to get children to cooperate with wearing a face mask.

Here are a few tips on how to teach your child how to wear a face mask:

  1. Choosing a suitable mask for your child
    • Some children are sensitive to certain material. Choosing the right mask material or loop type (earloop vs. headloop) is essential. This step requires trial and error to see which mask would set your child up for success.
  2. Determine baseline
    • Determine your child’s current ability. This is important to determine where to start your teaching. Some questions to consider are: can your child wear a mask but only for shorts period, or none at all? How long can they wear it? Do they seem bothered by the mask or the loop?
  3. Teach
    • Start teaching at your child’s current ability, and slowly increase the criteria. For example, if your child can only wear a mask for 3 minutes at a time, start the criteria at 3 minutes and slowly increase the duration (i.e., increase by one minute per step). During each teaching session, you may have your child do something fun (i.e., playing board game, reading a book, watching a video). However, if your child does not tolerate wearing a mask at all, you can start familiarizing the child with the mask. This can be having them touch the mask, rubbing the mask on their forearm, and then slowly going up to their upper arm, neck, chin and finally cheek. The duration for each step could vary depending on your child. It is better for teaching sessions to be short but consistent (i.e., 5-10 minutes, 3 times a day). In addition, it is also important not to increase the criteria too quickly. Make sure the child has already mastered that step for a few sessions before increasing criteria. If your child does not tolerate the earloop mask, you may try having them wear a headloop mask.
  4. Reinforcement
    • Provide reward after each successful teaching session. For example, if the goal for the session is to wear a mask for 3 minutes, provide a reward after the child tolerates wearing a mask for 3 minutes. Withhold reward if the child does not meet the criteria.
  5. Pretend play
    • You may also teach wearing a mask during play. During pretend play, the child may pretend to be a vet/ doctor, which requires them to wear a mask. You may also have the child put a mask on their doll or have everyone playing with them wear a mask.
  6. Use rules and pictures
    • Depending on your child’s age, you can use pictures or stories to help your child understand the importance of wearing a mask.

Jennifer E. Khumarga, M.S., BCBA

Enreach Behavioral Services

COVID-19, face mask, health protocol, applied behavior analysis, ABA

Children 4 Years - 6 Years / 4 Tahun - 6 Tahun / General Health / Kesehatan Umum / Health / Kesehatan / Teaching Your Child How to Wear a Mask

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