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Five Tips to Get Your Child to Wear a Helmet

Attending fairs and outdoor events are some of the activities Safe Routes Utah looks forward to during the summer months. We love spreading the message of street safety any time we get an opportunity. But during these warmer months, we especially love to emphasize helmet use while riding bikes, scooters and anything with wheels. As kids approach our booth, they eagerly look at our table of bright-colored swag and reach for the items. It’s our chance to ask them about their street safety habits.

We ask, “What should you put on your head every time you ride your bike or scooter?”

“A Helmet!” They shout enthusiastically. They’re rewarded with a reflective slap bracelet and color-changing pencils. 

But, when we ask, “Do you wear your helmet every time you ride?” one of two things happens with parents. They either smile with confidence, or they squirm as they brace themselves for the blatant honesty of their children— whose responses don’t always reflect the habits parents agree with.

If your child’s answer to that question makes you cringe, here are five tips to help your child build the habit.

Set a good example by wearing a helmet yourself

Children learn through observation and will pick up on our habits and practices. We can reinforce helmet use by planning regular bicycle outings and encouraging every family member to wear their helmet. 

Set the expectation early

We often don’t think twice about buckling up our kids in the car—establishing that habit as early as infancy. That same mindset can and should be set for our kids as soon as they start riding anything on wheels. However, if it wasn’t established early, don’t worry! It’s never too late to start. Allow kids to participate in picking a helmet by shopping for one together. If they find one they love they’re more likely to wear it consistently. 

Talk to your children about why wearing a helmet is so important

We hear children tell us all the time … Well, I’m super careful and safe when I ride so I don’t need a helmet. As adults, we understand the dangers from a fall or collision, but our kids may not. We don’t plan crashes, so taking time to discuss the consequences can open our children’s eyes to the tragedies that could occur if they’re unprepared. This post from Dr. Hess, pediatrician and child safety expert, is a great example of discussing these dangers in a way that has an impact without creating fear. What a wake up call! Helmet use is critical to our children’s safety. 

Praise can make all the difference

If your child wears a helmet while riding, speak up and let them know how proud you are of them. Kids respond well to praise and rewards for good choices and behavior. Teachers use this tactic all the time! And it works! You can even offer a special treat or privilege to reinforce their behavior. Before you know it, they’ll make sure you catch them wearing it every time.

No helmet—No bike

Consistency is key! If you allow your child to go without their helmet occasionally it’ll be difficult for them to see the importance. Setting the expectation and holding to it may be difficult at first, but eventually kids will comply once they see the rules aren’t going to be bent for any reason. 

We think any parent would agree that it’s challenging to get our kids to comply with any of our wishes. We often have to pick our battles with our kids, but we think this battle is worth the effort. YOU’VE GOT THIS! Keep going—stay persistent—trust the process! 

If you need help with helmet fit and size, we’ve got you covered here. And, if you happen to attend a fair or event this summer—keep a lookout for our booth, we’re happy to answer any of your questions about street safety.