Hard-Headed: How To Get Your Kids To Wear A Helmet
If you feel like you’re fighting the Battle of Gettysburg every time you try to get your Tony-Hawk-to-be to wear a helmet, it’s time for an intervention.
Since the dawn of time, getting kids to wear a helmet has been one of man’s greatest struggles (ok, we might be exaggerating just a bit). But whether they’re biking, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, riding a motorcycle (let’s hope not!), or even playing a sport, it can be tough get your child to wear his or her helmet. Board Blazers LED skateboard lights are a great safety feature, but there’s no more important way to stay safe while riding than wearing a helmet. Next time you’re fighting against the “Cool Factor” with your kids, don’t let them be hard-headed – instead, try these tips to get (and keep) their head in the game:
Listen, Think, Act
First off, put yourself in your kids’ shoes. Believe it or not, times might’ve changed since you were a kid (surprise!). The reasons that you didn’t want to wear a helmet as a kid might be totally different than their reasons today. If you take the time to listen to them instead of simply bracing for an argument, you might find that their objections are much easier to overcome that you expected. For example, maybe they think wearing a helmet is cool, but they just don’t have a place to store it at school. I’m sure you’d agree that this is a much easier problem to fix than fighting the prevailing winds of peer pressure. Don’t assume you know why you child won’t wear a helmet: ask them first, then use the following tips to react to their objections.
This is the single best way to get your kid to wear their helmet: work with them, not against them. We all respond better to things that are our choice, instead of being told what to do. Don’t demand compliance from your kids. Scare tactics, false threats, and punishment are guaranteed to build resentment. Instead, position yourself as a concerned partner who is genuinely trying to help them avoid serious injury. Show them that you’re on their side by getting them to want to wear a helmet instead of demanding it. With this basic idea in mind, the more specific tips below will help you both trying to avoid a staycation at the ER.
Get Their Buy-In
Again, put human nature on your side. We’re all likely to be much more supportive when we’re personally invested in something. For starters, always let your child pick out his or her helmet of choice (assuming it meets safety standards and is reasonably priced). This way, you’re building buy-in from the beginning. Plus, rather than trying to guess what they’ll think is cool, you’ll save yourself the guesswork by letting them choose!
Better yet, get your kids to spend some of their own money on a helmet. For example, give them a gift certificate to a local bike shop as a birthday gift, then take them to get the helmet of their choice with that money. Or, if you give your children an allowance, encourage them to split the cost of a helmet with you. They’re much more likely to wear it if they bought it! Pride of ownership is a powerful thing.
This graphic from the Washington Post sums it up perfectly. ‘Nuff said.
Consistency is key. There are no exception to the universal “Always Wear A Helmet” rule. None. Not “just to ride around the neighborhood,” not “if there are no cars,” not even if they accidentally forget it. Trust us – selective safety is not a thing. If you expect your kids to wear a helmet every time they ride, pretty soon putting on the helmet will become as automatic as skipping the ad before a YouTube video. Every time. No exceptions!
Helmets aren’t the ol’ bulky plastic brain buckets of yesteryear. In addition to letting them choose their helmet, there’s tons of new accessories to make a helmet look even cooler. Try letting your kids customize their existing helmet with one of these new peel and stick helmet mohawks. Another major problem with getting kids to wear their helmet is that they often take it off as soon as they’re out of sight of your watchful eyes. If you can afford it, an easy and fun way to get your child to keep his or her helmet on is by mounting a GoPro camera to it. They’ll be so excited to capture cool videos from their very own helmet cam that they won’t want to take it off!
Set the Example
Setting the example is a key to good leadership, and it applies here too. If family bike rides or ski trips are your idea of fun family bonding, or you ride a bike to work, make sure that you model good behavior and wear a helmet every time you ride. You already know your son or daughter looks up to you as a role model, so one of the best ways to non-verbally communicate the importance of a helmet is by wearing one yourself. You might want to skip that helmet mohawk we recommended though!
Make it fun!
Most importantly, make wearing a helmet fun! All of these points are designed to get you to work together with your kids to encourage responsible use of a helmet. By listening, accessorizing, and setting a good example, you can make wearing a helmet something they want to do, not have to do. Better yet, print off this article and have them read it themselves, then let them check out Tony Hawk’s website. If the world’s most famous, successful, and rich pro skater wears a helmet every time he rides, your son or daughter can too!
How have you encouraged your children to wear a helmet? Help fellow parents out by sharing your tips in the comments!