TAMPA, Fla. — With many Tampa Bay area school districts now requiring face masks, one local expert is weighing in on how you can help your child prepare.
Experts say the best thing you can do to help your child get ready to wear a mask every day is by setting an example.
That means parents should make sure to wear a mask every time they’re out of the house to normalize it.
“Not necessarily like talking negatively about them and complaining about them and trying to make it a positive thing,” said USF Health General Pediatrics Doctor Rebecca Plant.
Make sure you communicate with your kids and tell them why they’re wearing a mask.
Plant says one way to do that is to emphasize that it’s something we can do to stay healthy and that it’s a good way to help other people.
“The youngest I have is three and he puts his mask on. He complains about it but we kind of sit there and go ‘I know buddy but you know this is really important,’” said Plant.
Plant says it’s important to get your kids used to the idea of wearing a mask at school all day long.
“We need to start practicing now with them. So you can’t expect a kid to go from wearing it 15 minutes inside a store to wearing it for eight hours a day at school. And so practicing that at home and working up to it and trying to keep it a positive experience,” said Plant.
Doctors say you don’t need a ton of reusable masks, just one or two that your kid will actually be in the mood to wear.
“For a kid, it’s really going to be whatever mask they’ll wear and they’ll keep on,” said Plant.
Plant says 100% cotton masks can help with skin sensitivity and can be a little more comfortable for kids to wear at school all day long.
Experts say the best thing parents can do to encourage kids to wear their masks is to make it fun.
Let them pick out the masks they want to wear, whether it has fun patterns or their favorite characters.
It might be a good idea to turn mask-wearing into an activity, and let your kids color and decorate it.
“Giving them a few options, letting them play with them before you’re trying to put them on the kids letting them kind of just get used to them,” said Plant.
The CDC suggests washing your child’s cloth face covering every day.
You can put it in the washing machine and use your regular detergent.
Plant says you can also just wash it by hand using hot water and soap, and soaking it for five minutes.
The masks can air dry or you can throw them in the dryer.
“If you’ve got a lot of stuff going on it might be easier to have a couple back ups just in case,” said Plant.