Brain injuries claim thousands of children’s lives each year and most are preventable. Many such injuries to children and minors occur when they fall from a bicycle or skateboard, and in most cases these injuries are completely preventable. A helmet can help prevent the vast majority of head injuries related to bicycle accidents and skateboard accidents.
The problem is that many children and teens refuse to wear helmets when bicycling or skateboarding. Many kids respond to peer pressure and abandon helmets or worry about appearing “nerdy.” Even children who wear helmets when their parents are watching may remove helmets when bicycling or skateboarding just with friends. No parent can ensure that their children are watched all the time, so how can parents ensure that children wear helmets – even when they’re out of sight? Some experts recommend that helmets can be more appealing if they’re cool. Here’s how to make helmets cool for your child or teen:
1) Let your child choose a helmet. Your child should be the one to choose a helmet, because that’s the only way to ensure that your child has a helmet he or she likes. Shop around for a helmet with the same care you would shop around for a bike – visit lots of different stores and try on the many different styles until you child finds one they like.
2) Gather pictures of cool helmets worn by athletes. Many professional bicyclists and skateboarders put out posters of themselves on the bikes or skateboards – with helmets firmly in place. Make sure that your child sees these types of pictures so that wearing a helmet seems natural. Look for PSAs or statements made by athletes about the importance of helmets and look at these announcements with your children.
3) Discuss the effects of not wearing helmets. If your child is reluctant to wear a helmet, consider asking a family doctor to discuss brain injuries with your child. Many police stations and hospitals have brain injury awareness programs which take children through the process of a brain injury. Your child might hear about accidents or meet someone who has sustained a brain injury. If your child is old enough and your area has such a program, it can be a great way to really emphasize the message about brain injuries and helmets.
4) Discipline your child for not wearing a helmet. If you do catch your child riding their bicycle or skateboarding without a helmet, take away privileges. It may create a conflict, but it is more important to prevent your child from taking part in risky behavior.
5) Invest in cool helmet accessories. Some companies now offer animal helmet covers. These furry covers come complete with ears and can make a helmet seem much more fun for a young bicycle enthusiast. For older children, consider fashion helmet covers. Some are designed to disguise the helmet as a trendy hat and can be a big hit with teens.