How to get children used to face masks

how to get children used to face masks

Face masks. A hot topic. And one that could be with us for some time yet.

These are strange times for us as adults. Imagine what it is like for our children. We are all trying to find ways to live and function in what is the 'new normal'. Somehow, we need to normalise new habits, new ways of doing and being as a result of COVID-19.

One of the adjustments we're having to get used to are face masks. It's not that long ago that most of us had never worn one, let alone seen people wearing them in public. They can be quite tricky to get used to. Especially for children!

We want to focus on how we can get children used to wearing face masks.

Little girl wearing a face mask that has unicorns on it
Ivy wears her unicorn face mask in style!

Children and face masks

Many parents are worried about their children's safety. Many are concerned about their children becoming anxious when they see people wearing face masks.

We all want to protect our children, but what do we do to reduce the fear around masks and help teach children why we need them and how to wear them? Here are some ideas and experiences on how we can encourage the use these valuable items in our current "normal".

Face masks and communication

As humans we tend to process faces as a whole, rather than focusing on individual features. Our eyes and mouth are the most expressive features of our face. The mouth region, in particular, is good for expressing feelings of happiness. (A pretty important one, hey?)

We can see how removing the ability to express through the mouth can reduce emotional communication between people. We can easily feel much more disconnected.

So what should we do? Our energy needs to be focused into using other features on our face to expressing ourselves. Our eyes are key, as mentioned, but how about really exaggerating our eyebrow movement?

Another consideration is verbal communication. Wearing face masks does not necessarily make you any less heard, albeit a bit muffled, but so much of our understanding of language is based on interpretation of words through lip reading!

Remove this and we suddenly realise we are having to concentrate a lot more on listening to the actual sounds when talking to others, rather than relying on subconscious lip reading. A good thing to bare in mind.

What did Starfish do?

We are not the first people to do face masks for children. We knew we could help fill this need for our families, and wanted to make sure they could access this safety equipment for kids!

At Starfish, we introduced a fab new range of children's face masks, with a great story behind them. Our very own Kath (Dr Kath, I should add), who has been tutoring with us for some years, has an extremely talented daughter, Emilijia. Emilijia has a Degree in Creative Arts and Design and was travelling the world in her "dream job" doing costume design. Sadly, she found herself temporarily out of work during the Coronavirus outbreak.

There was an obvious demand for safety equipment during this time, especially face masks. A big problem with what was available during the initial outbreak was the reusability of face masks which were mainly disposable as a result of the virus hitting the nation pretty quickly. But she also noticed, on the plane trip home, that children were wearing ill-fitting mass or no masks at all! She approached us with an idea to design face masks specifically for children and also for their dolls and bears too! Genius. She set to making some quality, fun and reusable masks that would also be appealing to children. Whilst at it, she also designed matching ones for their parents. Hand sewn, Australian made, quality masks that weren't too medical looking and scary. Not to mention mini versions for their best buds!

I'll stop there and let Kath do the rest of the talking. Check out the video below where I have a quick chat with her about all things face masks!

So, on the back of my discussion with Kath, we've come up with some of our own creative ideas for how to get your children used to face masks. And here they are...

Our five, FIVE-STAR ideas

Face masks for your child's doll or bear
Little boy playing with his doll whilst they both wear face masks.

What's more comforting to a child than their main chum.

Popping a mask on themselves and helping their doll or teddy get theirs on too.

This can bring such comfort and normality to wearing masks.

Especially when they can help keep their own bear safe too.

Check out our very own range of mini matching masks we have at Starfish.

Dress up/fancy dress masks

Who doesn't love a bit of fancy dress from time to time? And it's totally okay to embrace your inner child. Go and get stuck into pretending to be doctors and nurses with the kids using your own face masks!

That way they can see face masks more as a dress up prop for imaginative play rather than the serious medical equipment that they actually are. All whilst keeping the idea of wearing them in context.

At the end of the day, doctors and nurses are our modern day heros right now, and who doesn't want to dress up as a super hero?

Kids and adults 'matching masks'
Father laying down on the grass playing with his son whilst both of them are wearing face masks

We all know that kids copy much of what we adults do, whether we want them to or not! But that's how they learn.

We can capitalise on this.

What better way to encourage the use of a face mask than to be their role model. If they can see you wearing them and taking face masks seriously, they'll want to copy and do the same, even if it's not straight away.

Setting a good example is one of the most simple and effective ways we can encourage this new behaviour. So you better grab your favourite colour too!

Favourite animals or characters

Face masks can look a little scary, even for us adults when they were first introduced, almost 'horror movie' like. Us adults adapt fairly quickly, but it can take kids a little longer. Aside from blocking out most of our faces, generic disposable face masks that are pretty common tend to be quite bland.

At Starfish we figured, why do facemasks have to be boring or scary looking? We're much more inclined to wear something if we feel like it reflects our style or personality in some way. Children may or may not have a particular style yet, but they've definitely got favourite animals, hobbies and characters that I'm sure would make wearing a mask 100 times more appealing.

We hope you'll find something that might just crack the face mask fobia. If not, let us know, we're open to ideas on new designs and patterns!

Songs with actions

We're sorry to suggest it, and it will be in your head for hours. But one of the best techniques for teaching is rhyming and songs. The same applies for creating new routines.

Creating songs and actions to go along with the practice of using face masks can really help engrain this new habit. Not to mention helping to add fun and normality!

We suggest making up your own...then we can't be blamed for them!

So get those face masks on!

Taking the fear out of face masks, and helping children put them on properly makes it easier for everyone.

Wearing face masks is becoming part of the "new normal" for many. It is all about protecting self and others.

And we're all in this together.

Stay safe.

Love team Starfish x

As always, we hope this blog has helped you in some way. If there's anything you think we have missed, or anything you think the rest of the Starfish community would benefit from, please do get in contact. We've had some awesome ideas from you all in the past and it truly helps us all.

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