EXPERT Q&A

How can we ease our daughter’s anxiety about wearing a mask in school?

As your kids return to in-person school settings this fall, you may want them to mask up to keep them safe—even in districts that don’t require mask-wearing. Here are some tips from CareNectar expert Martha Tyler to ease your children’s anxieties about wearing masks in public.

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Question

Our 5-year-old is starting kindergarten this week, but she does not want to wear a mask. She gets nervous about wearing them in public and doesn’t understand why she has to wear them while she’s at school. To complicate things, there is no mask mandate at her school, which makes it harder to explain to her why we want her to keep hers on even though other kids aren’t wearing theirs. She is immunocompromised, which is even more of a reason for her to wear her mask. What can we do to help her better understand the importance of wearing a mask in school while easing her anxiety about it?

Answer

This is so hard! And the optional component of masks at school does complicate things even more. I also completely understand wanting to be cautious. Here are some ideas to help with encouraging her to wear a mask:

  • Do as much education as you can around why we wear masks. Here is a fun video that compares wearing a mask to wearing a super hero cape! Talk about how it helps keep your family safe but it also helps keep her classroom safe.
  • Explain that different families have different rules around masks. Your family’s rule is that you wear them in public. She might see other kids who have different rules and that’s ok. You can compare it to rules about food. Or TV time. Families choose to do things differently and that’s not good or bad, it’s just what works best for each family!
  • Model mask-wearing. By allowing your daughter to see your family wear asks, she may normalize the behavior. And while it is something not every family wears masks, she will know her family consistently wears them in public places.
  • Try to find a mask that feels best on her face. Or that has some of her favorite characters on it. Let her help pick out some new masks to get excited about them!
  • Put some masks on her stuffed animals or dolls. This will help normalize mask wearing for her. You can even encourage her to play school and make sure that each “student” has their mask to keep everyone safe.
  • Praise your child when she wears her mask. You may also consider rewarding her with stickers each day she wears it. And understand that as she builds the habit of wearing her mask at school, it will likely get easier with time.
  • Read some books about mask wearing. Lucy’s Mask by Lisa Sirkis Thompson is a good option!

You are certainly not alone in this struggle, and you’re doing such a wonderful job keeping your daughter safe. Be as kind as you can and validate that masks are sometimes tough to keep on our faces, but also hold firm that we must wear them to keep everyone safe!

Please reach out with other questions as you have them, and best of luck on your daughter’s kindergarten (and mask-wearing) journey. We are here for you!

Meet The Expert


Martha Tyler

Martha has her Masters in Education and is a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator. She has worked as a sitter, nanny, tutor, or teaching artist over the past 20+ years. In addition, Martha has hosted a child care podcast, Chronicles of Nannya, for several years. She is also the co-founder of Compassionate Childcare LLC and is thrilled to be able to share her experience, knowledge, and resources with CareNectar!