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Masking Up With Kids: Tips and Tricks

Masking Up With Kids: Tips and Tricks

As we approach the start of the school year there is one question weighing on our minds, particularly those of us with younger school aged children – how will I get my kid(s) to wear a mask? There is no single answer to this conundrum. We all want to keep our children, families and teachers safe and healthy. Mask wearing is an effective and necessary measure to reduce the spread of illness. 


Here are a few secrets for mask-wearing success:

  • Modeling mask-wearing at home is an important first step; if kids see parents, older siblings and other family members wearing masks they will be more inclined to mimic the behavior.
  • Goals: Start with small expectations on how long your child will wear a mask. It is not realistic to expect our children to wear a mask for multiple hours the first day they try it, but every day try to encourage mask-wearing a bit longer to get used to the fun, new accessory.
  • Reward them for mask-wearing! Positive reinforcement is key in helping our children develop their mask-wearing stamina.
  • Help your children understand why they are wearing a mask and why it is important to protect themselves and others from “germs.” 
  • Make It Fun!  Turn mask wearing into a game - take pictures, make funny faces behind the mask and celebrate a practice that is keeping everyone safe and decreasing the spread of viruses.


Over the last few months I have become intimately familiar with masks both in design and getting my own children to wear them.  I started making masks when Maryland’s stay at home order was first announced. Hearing about the shortage of medical supplies I knew that it could not only benefit front line workers, but also others in the community who had no way of acquiring masks to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of COVID 19. After some research I found a pattern that seemed simple enough for my novice sewing skills and got to work. Working with my surgeon sister we made some minor adjustments to make them as similar to the medical masks we were accustomed to wearing all day in the operating room, around the hospital and medical offices. All fabrics are soft cotton for comfort and are washable, including the filters. Since March, I have made over 500 masks and distributed them locally, as well as to friends and colleagues across the country from Florida to California!

To encourage my oldest child to wear his mask, I involved him in the entire process. He picked every fabric used for the first round of masks made – there were a lot of super heroes, Disney characters and space prints!  He chose the patterns he wanted and even helped with sewing. Involving him helped his enthusiasm for wearing masks, but we also talked a lot about why we were wearing masks not only to protect ourselves but others as well.  Wearing masks when seeing grandparents from a distance became the norm - he would even remind adults to put their masks on!

It seems impossible to think that children will keep a mask on, but in my experience as a mother and a pediatric care provider, the more information that children have about why mask wearing is so important and the more involvement they have in selecting their mask (print, color, character), the easier it is for them to comply with wearing it. 

Most importantly, find a mask that is comfortable for your child, even if it takes a few tries! If the mask is itchy, too tight or too loose, it will not stay on. 

Masks with ear loops can be made more comfortable tying a ribbon around the head; make a large mask more fitted, take pressure off the ears, and keep the masks off the floor!

There are so many mask designs and options out there, find the one that works best for you and your family. There is no one answer to getting kids to wear masks. Much like when we get our babies to sleep and our toddlers to potty-train, every kid will be different and may be motivated differently. Keep up the hard work and mask up!


Links to fun COVID resources for children:


King Covid and the Kids Who Cared, By Nicole Rim

Coronavirus: A Book for Children, By Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts

My Hero is You

When You’re Stuck Inside a Box, By Caroline Jinks

SuperHero Oscar and the Big Germ, By Andrea Dean, MD

A Kids’ Guide to Coronavirus

We’re Going to Be OK

Unstuck: 10 Things To Do to Stay Safe and Sane During the Pandemic, by Bonnie Zucker, PsyD

Covid-19 Helpers, By Beth Bacon

Why We Stay Home, By Samantha Harris and Devon Scott