Let’s talk about masks which is one of the most important pandemic habits. Initially, to wear one while stepping out invaded our personal space and freedom. The veil across the face had cast another across the human psyche the world over. It was too much to handle. We felt imprisoned. Our vision and breathing were restricted until we learned to adapt.
Then there were those harrowing times when we’d forget our masks and fret about returning home for them or purchase one from the nearest store.
Looking back to those pandemic habits up until now, we probably should call ourselves ‘Evolved’. We are ‘forever resilient’ species.
The fuss, the anger and frustration has vanished. Universal acceptance has descended upon mankind – masks are the way forward, there are no two ways about it.
Today it’s making a splash all over, it’s a style statement, a fashion accessory, a brand and beyond – a limb we cannot do without!
This is our story as adults.
What can we expect from toddlers?
Their problem is more acute. They can neither express nor understand the significance of pandemic habits . Any sort of reason is simply beyond their comprehension. Strap on a mask, and in a few moments they’re teary-eyed, trying to shirk it away, uneasy, jittery, angry. It is an emotional turmoil for a parent to go through this experience repeatedly, as it is for the child. Not all children experience these extreme emotions. But there are children in their terrible twos with no understanding of how to balance emotions – you will spot a little Mohammed Ali trying to throw you a punch, if you got too close to fix the mask. Some are sprinters that take to their heels and keep you chasing them for long minutes. Some are actors, throwing you off-guard by distracting you with something else, in the hope that you forget the mask altogether! But there is nothing to fear.
The good news, according to data so far, is that COVID does not strike children yet good habits during the pandemic are an additional learning experience for the child. Children are spared, a blessing we must pour out our gratitude for. This leads us to our next question.
Do children even need a mask?
Yes, they do. Every child outside home must wear a mask. A child as young as 2 years must also wear a mask. It is mandatory.
How do we begin?
Children do not like to be surprised, especially if they do not involve treats or games. They need to be prepared. As a general rule, it’s best to introduce the situation of toddlers wearing masks in a stress-free environment, well in advance, so that their minds have ample time to absorb and respond rather than react. If you suddenly strap on a mask and whisk them out of home, they are caught off-guard. Fear creeps in and they end up throwing a fit or crying to escape the unfamiliar – the mask.
Engage in Talking
Take your child through the reasons to wear a mask and teach them good habits during the pandemic. Use simple explanations, ones that are, in the least bit, scary and easily understood. An example could be – ‘If you wear a mask, you won’t catch a cold, sneeze or cough. You can play more!’. Be your best smile!
Make a face mask for two-year-old familiar, just as easy as slipping into shoes before leaving home. Indulge in some fun role-play. Play act going to your child’s favorite park or your familiar grocery store. Dress up together excitedly, pretend to sit in your car. Pick up baskets as you do at your grocery, and pick items off imaginary racks. To add some fun, pretend your mask slipped off your nose, with a big ‘Oops’, so your baby notices, and pull your mask back in place. Your child will mirror your actions. These good habits during the pandemic also helps them understand how to fix a mask that’s slipped from position.
Offer Interesting Choices
Toddlers wearing masks can be a challenge, here is a trick to help you get a face mask for a two-year-old. Spread an array of masks before them – different colors, favorite cartoon characters sewn or printed on them. Play a game of choosing and wearing them. After your child chooses one, play with a ball, passing it back and forth, and notice your child’s breathing. Also notice that with practice, the fuss reduces, the child learns to adjust to the mask. Breathing becomes regular.
You can host a mask party to help with a face masks for two-year-old children in the neighborhood. They will learn to cope better. Parents would be more than thrilled by your gesture and could take turns to host one at each playmate’s place.
Convey Through Visuals
Show pictures of toddlers wearing masks and help them understand that it’s healthy to do so. Once they realize it’s best for them to stay with a mask on, they won’t remove them in your absence.
Big Girl, Big Boy
Children love to be considered grown-up. Tell them all grown-ups wear masks. Wear them with a touch of pride and stand tall in front of the mirror. Your child would want to imitate your actions. This habit helps them take pride in themselves and stay attentive to all their actions, a trait that will bear fruit all their way into adulthood and beyond!
Kizoi kit is here to help you with early child development through their learning kits. Happy masking up!