Can't get your child to wear hearing protection? You are not alone! Children, toddlers especially, can be difficult when it comes to wearing (and sustaining) hearing protection. But just like sunscreen is a must for a day at the beach, and a bike helmet is necessary for a scoot down the street, hearing protection is a no-brainer at a loud sporting event, fireworks show or concert.
But how to you get your, “I want these pants, no these pants, NO THESE PANTS” two-year-old to agree to wear hearing protection? Here are a few strategies to end the battle over hearing protection.
1. Start early
Ideally, by the time your child is old enough to realize they are wearing hearing protection, they will be used to it. Like a car seat or a sun hat, get into the habit of putting hearing protection on your child at any opportunity. If you find that you haven’t used earmuffs on your child in a while, wear them around the house for fun. Play sound games so that your child can hear the difference that sounds make with and without hearing protection.
2. Model with other family members
Sometimes, a picky two-year-old just needs a little motivation from an older sibling or parent. Seeing big sister with a pair of earmuffs will make a toddler more inclined to want to wear their own pair. Ideally, the whole family will have a plan to protect their hearing at loud events, so a child can understand that hearing protection is just part of the fun.
3. Demonstrate how noises sound with and without hearing protection
Most children naturally dislike loud noises. When an unexpected noise startles or upsets your child, take that opportunity to talk about loud sounds and what they can do to make these situations less scary or uncomfortable. Teaching your child to cover their ears with their hands when noises are too loud is an excellent strategy for moments when hearing protection is not readily available. Follow up at home by playing music and allowing your child to hear the difference when they cover their ears with their hands vs. when they are wearing hearing protection. Remind them before noise-producing events that it is more comfortable to experience noise with hearing protection on. Find low-risk events that produce noise like truck touches or community parades, so that they can practice with hearing protection for small periods of time. Talk about the experience afterwards in an age appropriate way.
4. Get the right pair
All hearing products are not made equal. Regardless of which brand you chose, make sure your child has properly fitted hearing protection that is audiologist approved. Wise Little Ears is proud to offer a line of infant and youth hearing protection that is both safe and comfortable for babies, toddlers and children.
5. Let them customize their own hearing protection
Possibly the BEST way to get your child to agree to wear hearing protection, is to let them customize their own pair. We have made that easy by including waterproof decals and space on the ear cups of our youth line for your child to do just that. It's a fun and easy way to bring your child into the decision making process.
Remember that you are doing a great job
Any little bit helps when it comes to protecting your child from noise-induced hearing loss. However you get your child to agree to wear hearing protection is a win! Whether it’s a lollypop, a sticker or a ride on the carousel, you are making the effort to protect your child’s hearing. And the more you practice, model, and praise your child for their willingness to wear earmuffs, the more positive the experience will be.
Lara and Mabel | Wise Little Ears