How to Get Your Child to Wear a Mask

Get the short answer from a pediatric psychologist
child with masked teddy bear looking out window

Q: What are some ways to keep a child excited or enthusiastic about wearing a mask to stay safe from the coronavirus?

A: It’s important to remember that young children rely on seeing faces for communication. They look at our faces to see if they’re in a safe situation, or to see how we’re reacting, and subsequently, how they should react in return. When children can’t see our faces, it’s harder for them to read situations, whereas adults are better at reading social cues and have the cognitive capability to understand what’s happening. So for young children, seeing people wearing masks can be scary.

Advertising Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

To improve the success of your child wearing a mask in public, it helps to desensitize them at home. Engage your child in the process — give them a mask that they can decorate, which will increase the chance they will wear it. Purchase a neutral-colored mask, and let your child decorate it however they wish — with drawing, glitter, stickers, or anything they like. You can even sew the mask together as a team, or make a mask that you don’t have to sew. You can make masks out of T-shirts, bandanas, or other materials that you already have at home if your child doesn’t want to wear a traditional mask. Make it fun!

Put extra masks in your child’s play area so they are accustomed to having them around. Encourage your child to put masks on their dolls, or their action hero figurines. Reinforce to your child that they too are a superhero as they are stopping the spread of germs. Have your child play doctor and let them put the mask on you. Make it fun and introduce masks to your child as much as possible in their everyday play.

We have to reduce the fear associated with masks — that they’re abnormal or that something is wrong. Instead, we need to help children understand that masks are just part of daily life now.

Advertising Policy

Pediatric psychologist Emily Mudd, PhD

Advertising Policy