From 11.59pm tonight, Wednesday 22nd of July, it will be mandatory to wear a mask in Melbourne. For many children, seeing faces covered by masks can be unsettling, and lead to confusion or other sorts of overwhelming feelings.
They will no doubt be full of curiosity and have many questions waiting to be answered. As a parent or guardian, it is important to listen to your child and find a way to talk to them that will ensure they understand the current situation without being left feeling anxious.
We have compiled a list of tips taken from various experts on how to help your child navigate through a masked Melbourne.
If you are wondering what your children are thinking of this new rule, then why not ask them about it. Different children will have different responses to the idea of a wearing mask so best to start the conversation by finding out what is on their mind. Make sure you keep the conversation positive and light, try asking them about what they think are the benefits of wearing a mask.
Make Masks Fun
A great way to get children used to the idea of seeing and wearing masks is allowing them to see the fun side of it. Create your own masks as a family by either sewing them or personalising store-bought ones. You could even look at unique ways of making masks, such as out of a sock like this video here. Playing dress ups with your decorative masks is also another fantastic way of familiarizing your children with them.
Speak to Your children in Terms They Can Understand
All children communicate differently, particularly those in different age groups. Young children are more likely to understand if you don’t overcomplicate things. Tell them wearing a mask is the same as washing our hands, to keep the germs away. Keep it simple and concrete!
Whereas for older children, you can be more specific and explain the benefits in detail. You can show them informational videos showing them how droplets are spread and how masks protect each other. It’s important to be honest with them and to tell them the facts.
Model the Behaviour
Use your own behaviour to guide your child and normalise wearing a mask. The best way to do this is for you and your children to practice wearing masks at home. Ensuring they feel comfortable around you whilst wearing a mask will help them feel more relaxed when they are surrounded by faces in masks outside of the house. You could also try putting the mask on their favourite toy or show them photos of other children wearing masks.