Gov. Phil Murphy’s updated COVID requirements for childcare centers include a provision that beginning this Friday, all children ages 2 and up must wear a mask when they’re inside.

Some 2-year-olds are calm and obedient but others rarely follow directions.

So what’s the best way to “encourage” these toddlers to mask up and stay masked up?

Psychologist Dr. Steven Tobias of the Center for Child and Family Development in Morristown said it’s important for parents and caregivers to have a positive attitude about the idea of wearing a mask, offer lots of praise and start slowly.

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He said that means “the first time you put the mask on the child isn’t the first day of daycare when they have to wear it all day.”

Tobias said instead of ordering your little one to wear a mask, let them know how great it is to mask up.

“You might get them a mask, make it a big deal, how special it is, and just try it on, take a picture and oh, you look so great, and then take it off.”

He said the idea is to remove the mask before the child becomes resistant to it.

“If you desensitize the child gradually, keep the mask on for longer and longer periods of time, and take it off before they get upset or reject it, you have a much better chance they’re going to accept it,” he said.

Tobias said that when he picks up his own grandson from daycare, “I have to remind him to take his mask off, because he’s completely forgotten that he has it on.”

He also pointed out to this age group “mask wearing is almost normal."

He said the worst thing a parent or caregiver can do is to abruptly try tp force a young child to wear a mask.

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