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How you can get kids to wear face covering during Covid-19 pandemic, according to expert

Mirror logo Mirror 29/05/2020 Courtney Pochin

With the coronavirus pandemic raging on and the UK continuing to be in lockdown, there is still so much that is unknown.

For instance, some of the big questions on parents' lips might be when will it be safe for children to return to school and what will school days look like after Covid-19?

With the government advising the public to wear face coverings when in confined spaces such as shops and on transport, it could be the case that children at school will also have to follow suit.

But how do you get your child to wear one, and more importantly, how can you ensure they keep it on during the day?

A parenting expert from The Baby Show, has shared her top tips on this issue.

Speaking to MirrorOnline, retired midwife and author of Your Baby Skin to Skin,  Rachel Fitz-Desorgher, said: "After two long months of lockdown, many parents will be breathing a sigh of relief at the thought of their children getting the 'back to school' call.

"Juggling working from home with schooling has been extremely stressful for conscientious families the length and breadth of the UK, and 'Lockdown Exhaustion' is setting in.

"But mixed with the relief is the anxiety of how to prepare children for the transition back into the classroom, and the reality of how different that learning environment will look. 

"Frequent hand-washing, small classroom groups and social distancing will be the new normal and, face coverings could be de-rigeur for our tots as we wrestle them into their grey pinafore dresses and navy trousers before delivering them to the school gates at safely-spaced, timed intervals."

a person wearing a costume: Children may not want to wear them © Getty Images Children may not want to wear them

She continued: "So how can we prepare our youngsters for their new reality without terrifying them out of their wits, whilst instilling the importance of compliance? The key is simple congruency.

"When we want to give a clear, unambiguous message to our children and guarantee they accept what we say without too much upset, it is essential that our words match our body language, tone of voice and facial expression.

"If our words say 'Don’t worry, this is all fine' but our high-pitched voice and anxiously-raised eyebrows scream 'I don’t know how you will cope with all this. I am so fearful for you', our child will trust the body language rather than the words, and will panic."

Rachel went on to explain that children don't need long explanations, they need clarity.

"Much better to use brief, clear, explanations which reassure them that this is all quite normal and to be expected," she explained.

a person holding a cell phone: Face coverings can help limit the spread of coronavirus © Getty Images Face coverings can help limit the spread of coronavirus

The expert also warned against trying to turn wearing face coverings into some sort of game.

"Trying to turn mask-wearing into a game is unlikely to bring long-lasting compliance (games aren’t for all day, every day), and overly-enthusiastic praise and rewards such as star charts simply reinforce the message that this is unusual behaviour when what we actually want to instil is a sense of normality.

"A brief 'When school starts back, everyone will wear face coverings to protect them from catching poorly bugs' followed by an opportunity to explore - 'have you got any questions for me?' Is much more settling for a child than a long treatise on the perils of Covid!

"Then, first day back, very simply tell your child 'Remember that we wear face coverings at school now. Would you like to put yours on or shall I put it on for you?' This is clear, unambiguous and allows your child the choice and autonomy all youngsters crave without offering an opt-out of the actual wearing itself."

But what if your child refuses to wear one?

Rachel has an answer for this too.

If your child replies "I don’t want to wear a face covering!" she says you should make sure to acknowledge their feelings, before simply offering them a choice once again of you putting it on for them, or the child doing it themselves.

She adds: "The more straightforward we are with even our youngest children, the more likely they are to take change in their stride. So no need for histrionics, bribery or tantrums (theirs OR yours!).

"Just gentle and assertive parenting designed to reassure our children that this new world we live in is perfectly ok, and the grown-ups who love them feel confident that everything will turn out just fine..."

Another top tip, according to HuffPost, is to let the child pick the face covering they like best, whether you're buying it or sewing one.

And if you're making one from scratch, allowing your child to decorate theirs will help them feel like it's something they chose, instead of an item that's been forced upon them.

Pictures: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the world

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