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Maybe you are a Millennial, a Gen Xer, or somewhere in between. But there’s one thing on which we can all agree: raising kids in this day and age is a challenge. And we’ve all probably uttered the phrase, “Things were a lot different when I was growing up!” It’s true! However old you are, this is not the same world in which you were raised.
Whether you lament drinking from the water hose, being dropped off at the community pool or being told to go out and play (just be home when the streetlights come on!), this is not the reality in which kids live today. Perhaps along with the change, there is a little bit of lost innocence, responsibility, and problem-solving skills. Perhaps there’s something positive in the shift, too.
There are many styles of parenting, but whether you’re a free-ranger or a helicopter, your gut instinct is still to protect your child. What does that mean, in terms of their brains? Let’s dive deeper.
You may schedule your child’s every day and have them enrolled in activities and sports year-round. Great. Or maybe you allow your child freedom to explore as the wind and whimsy moves them. Awesome. Either way, there are a few things you can do to reduce the likelihood of head injuries.
We didn’t used to use car seats past infancy or restrict kids to the back seat, much less enforce the seat belt rule. Turns out... seat belts matter for kids, too! The back seat is the safest place for kids under age 13. Yes... 13! Most collisions involve the front of the vehicle. Keeping them in the back keeps them further from the impact. Regardless of the law where you live, keep your child in a booster seat until they can appropriately fit (feet flat on the floor, bottom scooched all the way to the back, lap piece low across the hips and shoulder strap across the shoulder, not the neck or face). Remember, they may fit well in some cars and not in others. Be vigilant. Not only do seat belts save lives, they can help prevent head trauma and reduce whiplash.
Let’s face it, kids fall a lot. And certainly more than most adults. Using helmets during certain activities goes a long way in protecting your child’s brain and preventing injury. A helmet is designed to spread an impact over a larger area and prevent direct impact to the skull in the event of an accident. It also slows down the speed and reduces the distance (by centimeters, but enough to be very effective) that the skull and brain move.
The skull protects the brain, as does a thin layer of cushioning between the brain and skull. But a fall, hit or impact can cause damage to one or all three. Mitigating the risk of injury is the whole point of a helmet. But helmets have their limits... they only work when they’re used!
To properly use a helmet, keep the following in mind:
Helmets should be worn during:
It may sound like overkill. After all, you probably learned how to ride a bike without a helmet or rode cross-country laying down in the back seat without a seatbelt care in the world. And, yes, you survived. And, yes, seatbelts and helmets cannot and will not prevent all injuries.
However, your child stands a much better chance of walking away with little-to-no injury when using safety measures than not. If a child is injured and wasn’t using safety precautions, it’s not just the kid that has a long road to recovery.
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