Helping kids get comfortable wearing a mask during COVID-19

Many communities are strongly recommending children and adults to wear masks while out in public. Here are some quick tips to help your kids cope with this new change.

  • Explain what COVID-19 is in simple language that they can understand.
  • Provide opportunities to play and get comfortable with the mask.
  • Give lots of choices.
    • Materials to use
    • Color and design options
    • Decorating
  • Validate their emotions and normalize them.
    • “It is frustrating that we have to wear masks.”
    • “I’m sad too that we have to do this.”

Here is a fun Mask Coloring Page that can also be used to help kids cope with this new experience. If your child has to go to the doctor, they will see medical providers wearing similar protective masks. This is an Activity Sheet that can prepare kids while providing opportunities to feel validated.

Animal coloring sheet created by Sarah Nunnally
Activity sheet created by Emma Fratangelo, MS, CCLS & Stephen Browne

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Celebrating Therapeutic Work: Spotlight and Giveaway on Play Clothes

I always love to support others doing amazing work, so today you are in for a treat. I’m excited to introduce a recreation therapist, Kim Shepard who is helping fellow clinicians spread the love of their work through Play Clothes.


Guest Blogger, Kim Shepard from Play Clothes 

I am a recreation therapist and inclusive play practitioner who happens to also enjoy design and art. I have my Master’s in Recreation Therapy through the School of Public Health at Indiana University and a large part of my experience comes through working in the therapeutic camp setting as well as providing holistic care for clients, working alongside and in collaboration with other therapeutic health professionals and educators. I am very passionate about the importance of inclusion, in that it is essential to the health, well-being, and progress of our society as a whole.

I currently work in the pediatric community setting at an inclusive play gym, where I am the operations manager. I also have a background working therapeutically with a wide range of children and adults, including camp, community, and clinical settings and with clients with physical and developmental disabilities, mental health and behavioral health needs. I am also a type one diabetic, which has played a crucial impact in my life, helping me feel invested in and empowered in the Spoonie community. I was also diagnosed as a child and have very important memories of a child life specialist teaching me to give shots on a teddy bear named Rufus. My husband is a counselor who also has experience working with children with autism, and we are both passionate about the vital importance of mental health and disability acceptance and inclusion. Overall, I feel like my life is just filled and directed by the power of inclusion, play, and empathy, which have shaped me both personally and professionally.

Play Clothes Collage

The Launch of Play Clothes 

Play Clothes is an independent design project of mine. It was started out of frustration at the fact that no one ever understood what I actually do for a living and the importance behind it. My first shirt design was on the definition of recreation therapy and thanks to the very positive response I received, things just blossomed from there. It leads to design shirts about other therapeutic fields, including child life, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, pediatric nursing, art therapy, and much more.

Play, play-based learning, and inclusion are three of my biggest passions, and the therapeutic role of play—especially inclusive play—is my own personal soapbox that I could talk about for hours on end. Play Clothes gives me a way to speak out in visual design about those topics, and I have been so honored by the way that so many other healthcare, teaching, and therapeutic professionals have responded with excitement and enthusiasm.

All shirts are designed by me and then printed and distributed by, who I love supporting due to their utmost professionalism and friendliness, as well as the quality of their products and the sensory-friendly softness of their fabric. Currently, I have too many designs out there to list, but you can find more on my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I am always open to ideas about other designs and offer designs for groups, clinics, schools, and more at no cost other than the price of the shirts. Shirts have to have at least five buys in order to be printed, but this hasn’t been a large problem so far, but it does mean that word-of-mouth and social media are incredibly beneficial for Play Clothes’ continued success!

Play Clothes Giveaway.jpg

Win a t-shirt design of your choice. Choose one or more ways to enter:

1. Sign up for email notifications at Child Life Mommy and leave a comment below

2. Facebook: Follow Child Life Mommy, tag a friend and leave a comment on the post

3. Facebook: Follow Play Clothes and leave a comment about the giveaway

4. Twitter: Follow, Like and RT the post to @ChildLifeMommy and @clothes_play

5. Instagram: Follow @ChildLifeMommy & @PlayClothesIn, Like the post and tag a friend.

Good Luck! Winner will be chosen on 8/5/18. Shipped to residents in the U.S. and Canada.



6 Early Childhood Dental Health Issues and How to Deal with Them


Guest Blogger, Shen Chao

There are a lot of problems that affect your child’s dental health such as early loss of teeth, lip sucking, tongue thrusting, thumb sucking and tooth decay. Maintaining your child’s baby teeth in good health and proper alignment is important to your child’s overall health in the long term.

Here are 6 early dental health issues that children face and how to prevent them:

  1. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

What and How: Baby tooth decay is also known as early childhood caries which occurs due to your baby’s teeth staying in prolonged contact with sugary drinks like sugary water, formula, milk and fruit juices.

The sugar is broken down in your mouth which produces a byproduct of acid which wears down the minerals found in your tooth enamel which further leads to tooth decay.

Solution: You can prevent tooth decay by:

  1. Give your baby a pacifier or a bottle filled with plain water instead of milk or sugary drinks.
  2. Don’t let your baby’s pacifier come into contact with any sugary liquid.
  3. Don’t ever let your baby sleep with a bottle full of any sugary liquid. Only give them a small amount of water or a pacifier instead.
  4. Remove your breast from your baby’s mouth after he/she falls asleep.
  5. Avoid adding sugar to your baby’s food.
  6. Wipe your baby’s teeth and gums with a gauze or wet cloth after feeding.
  7. Consult your dentist about your child’s fluoride requirements. You may have to fluoridate your water if necessary.
  8. Teach your baby to start drinking from a cup by their first birthday at the earliest. Moving on to a sippy cup reduces your child’s teeth’s exposure to sugars.


  1. Thumb Sucking

What and How: It’s very difficult to find an infant that doesn’t suck on something, whether it be their pacifier, their fingers or their toys. Sucking on an object just when your baby’s teeth are erupting can throw your baby’s teeth out of alignment, causing them to have protruding or crooked teeth as well as leading to overbites. It can also teach your children to eat incorrectly and cause speech problems.

Solution: Thumb sucking isn’t such a big problem until your child’s permanent teeth begin erupting. Once your child’s adult teeth start erupting, you should encourage your child to stop sucking his thumb. This can be a bit difficult as sucking your thumb is generally a coping and safety mechanism that can have the opposite of its intended effect, pushing your child to suck his thumb even more.

Try and praise your child for refraining from sucking his thumb and follow it up with a reward. You can then slowly begin to increase the time that your child has to avoid sucking his/her thumb to get the reward.

  1. Lip Sucking and Tongue Thrusting

What and How: Tongue thrusting is the habit of sealing the mouth for swallowing by pushing the top of the tongue forward against the lips. Tongue thrusting puts extra pressure against the front teeth, which can push them out of alignment, this leads to interference with proper speech as well as creating an overbite.

Lip sucking also involves repeatedly holding your lower lip beneath the upper front teeth. Sucking the lower lip can occur on its own or in combination with thumb sucking. This practice leads to an overbite and the same types of tongue thrusting and thumb sucking.

Solution: You can stop the habit with the same technique that is required for stopping thumb sucking – positive reinforcement.

  1. Over Retained Baby Teeth

What and How: A baby tooth that is still in place with a permanent tooth trying to erupt underneath is usually termed as an “over-retained” tooth, which requires its removal. The presence of still having primary teeth in adults and teenagers can be a potential problem such as impacted permanent teeth or congenitally missing teeth.

Solution: The earlier you get diagnosed the better the chances of healing. Regular dental appointments allow your dentist to actively monitor your child’s oral growth and development.

  1. Orthodontic Problems and Teeth Grinding

What and How: A bite that does not meet properly is known as a malocclusion. It can either be acquired or inherited. Certain causes of malocclusion are misaligned jaws, crowded teeth, extra or even missing teeth. Accidents or developmental issues such as thumb or finger sucking for extended periods can cause malocclusions.

Solution: TMJ treatment such as occlusal splint therapy and night guards can be worn to prevent your child from grinding his teeth.

  1. Early Tooth Loss 

What and How: If your child loses their baby teeth before their permanent teeth erupt, it is usually caused by lack of jaw space, injury or tooth decay. If the baby teeth are left untreated, the rest of the teeth can crowd into the space that is intended for the permanent tooth.

Solution: To improve your child’s dental health, you need to first prevent your child from suffering from tooth decay for which you need to set an oral hygiene routine from a young age if you want your child to avoid tooth loss. Nutrition plays a large role in our oral health so try to feed your children sugar-free foods as much as possible. If your child’s tooth happens to fall out early, then your dentist will suggest the use of a space maintainer, a metal or plastic application that is designed to hold the space left by the missing teeth till the permanent tooth erupts.

Author Bio:

Shen Chao is part of Dr. Joshua Hong’s Dental Clinic in Goodyear, AZ. While working for the dental clinic, he’s gained first hand experiences into the questions and concerns that dental patients have. He has been writing to inform people about various dental topics to help his readers improve their oral health. When he’s not working, you can find him on a hiking trail with his dog or having a Sunday cook-out with friends.