Wearing a helmet can mean the difference between walking away from an accident with light injuries and death or debilitating injury. According to the CDC, wearing a helmet can cut brain injury by 88 percent, and face injury by 65 percent. Getting your kids and teens to wear their helmets can be challenging, however. Here are some tips on how to get them to wear their helmets:
- Start them early. Children who learn to wear a helmet when they get their first bike will wear their helmet as a habit throughout their life. If you didn’t start them early—don’t give up. It’s never too late to start being safe.
- Let them pick their helmet. If your children choose their own helmets, they are less likely to tell you the helmet is uncool or feel like you are forcing them to wear it. Realize that if they want a more expensive helmet, it might be worth it to get them to actually wear it. You might want to try a fun trick at the bike store, too. Find a salesperson who you think your child might look up to—someone young and athletic—and ask them to show your child the helmet that they wear when they ride.
- Be an example. Wear your helmet when you ride—your kids learn by watching you.
- Encourage their friends to wear helmets. You can make peer pressure work for you if all of their friends wear helmets.
- Make it a package deal. If they want to learn to ride a bike, they have to agree to wear the helmet at all times.
- Explain why you want them to wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet should not seem like an arbitrary rule. Explain why they should wear a helmet as part of a larger conversation about bike safety. They should understand that you want them to wear a helmet because you value their safety, and not wearing a helmet can hurt them permanently or even cause death.
- Point out helmets while watching sports. Bike racers like those in the Tour de France are required to wear helmets. Even players in other sports—football, baseball, hockey—have to protect their heads.
- Reward them. Praise them or give them a special treat or privilege when they wear their helmet without being reminded.
- Do not let them ride without a helmet, ever. Be consistent. There is no time or place when it’s safe to ride without a helmet, and if you are inconsistent, they will learn that wearing a helmet is optional.