As a result of the new rules issued by the government, masks are now mandatory in public places throughout Quebec. Although the wearing of masks is not mandatory for children under 12 years of age, it is nevertheless recommended for children between 2 and 11 years of age. However, it is not recommended for children under 2 years of age. What can parents do to help children feel comfortable wearing a mask? While wearing a mask may seem uncomfortable or strange at first, the good news is that children will eventually adjust, especially when they see that all their friends and teachers (or educators) have to wear them too. In the meantime, here are a few tips for parents to help their children adjust to wearing the mask properly.

Practice.  Be consistent in wearing the mask to establish good habits and routines for the child. This includes how to put it on with clean hands, how to take it off and how to wash or disinfect their hands afterward, and how to help them make sure their nose, mouth, and chin are fully covered. Practice with them as much as possible to get the routine established more quickly.

Meet them where they are. If the child doesn’t want to put the mask on, you can ask them how it makes them feel, what their fears are. There may be different fears, such as not being able to breathe or choking. It’s important to reassure the child, to put words to the situation. Invite them to draw what they are feeling. You can also suggest that the child put the mask on a stuffed animal or doll and show pictures of other children or superheroes wearing masks. The superheroes that children often refer to wear masks. By showing that these characters have masks, the child can be encouraged to do the same. As parents, you can also put one on at home, and take it off several times, so that the child is reassured that you are always the same person.

Let them choose. Since the mask is an object that is not yet completely familiar to many children, you need to make wearing the mask fun. You can let them choose the color and pattern of their mask, and even encourage them to decorate it the way they want. In this way, the mask with their personal touch can help them anchor it into their routine. Here are a few Quebec companies that offer affordable masks for children :

Bubulle et Jujube ($10) : Bubulle et Jujube, a company that makes children’s items, has slowly abandoned its usual production for cotton masks.

Polaire Plus ($9.99) : The Saint-Félicien company, located in Lac-Saint-Jean, which specializes in the manufacture of winter clothing, has also launched the manufacture of protective fabric masks. 

Bébé Coccoli ($14.99) : The lining is made of a non-woven material that is essential to stop microscopic particles and to maintain a barrier between the face and external particles. The fabric is breathable and comfortable, and the fastening elastic is soft to the touch.

Atelier B (20$) : The designers added an extra cord to adjust the mask for children. Just make a loop at the back of the head. 

Bien Aller ($16.99) : A portion of the proceeds is donated to CanadaHelps’ Community Assistance Fund for COVID-19.

Make sure your child’s mask fits properly. Since we don’t want children to touch their faces to fit the mask, it is important to try to find one that is the right size for your child. This will make your child more comfortable and less reluctant to wear it.

Encourage their sense of responsibility towards others. Explain that masks are the rule right now. Just like wearing a seatbelt in the car or wearing a coat when it’s cold, there are certain rules we all follow that help us stay safe and healthy. It’s best to talk to children in age-appropriate terms about the importance of wearing a mask and explain germs in simple terms.

Put mask use in a healthy context that they understand. Explain to your child the importance of wearing a mask to help protect others and to help protect themselves. Most children know that washing their hands, using tissue, and sneezing into their elbows are everyday things we need to do to prevent the spread of germs, even when we are not sick. Wearing a mask falls into the same category. It is one more way to keep ourselves and others healthy.

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