MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — This can be a confusing time for children, as they are expected to wear face masks in indoor public spaces, as well as at schools.
That begins Saturday as part of Gov. Tim Walz’s statewide mask mandate.
Mankato Clinic Pediatrician Dr. Katie Smentek says wearing masks properly and for long periods of time is a new skill for children to learn.
That’s why she recommends a 30-day preparation plan for parents and caregivers to use at home.
“Starting now is going to be much more helpful than waiting until the day before school and then you are going to have a child who isn’t used to wearing a mask and doesn’t really understand how to do it easily” said Smentek.
The plan, developed by doctor and mother Garland Gail Youngblood M.D, offers a daily guide families can follow to help children find masks that fit comfortably and practice wearing for longer periods of time.
“This is a nice easy way to introduce your kids slowly, so they wear it five minutes two or three time a day just to get the idea then you start building slowly. I like to think about wearing masks as something that you have to teach your kids, it’s not instinctive, it’s like brushing your teeth, or sitting in a car seat or potty training,” explained Smentek.
The plan includes days off from mask wearing and encourages families to reward children for their good work.
“I like to explain it to kids like you are being a superhero, you are protecting people around you and your friends by doing this activity,” said Smentek.
She also advises listening to your child’s concerns. If your child complains of shortness of breath while wearing a mask, talk with your pediatrician.
Click here to see the 30-day plan or scroll through the slides below.