Please Wear Your Earplugs!

Most moms check the summer camp photo rolls for glimpses of their children excelling in sports, or being voted the friendliest camper, or starring in the camp play, but my proudest moment was when I saw pictures of my two children, aged 11 and 9 at the time, wearing earplugs at a camp concert! Why do I care, you ask? Because I am a mom with a genetic hearing loss, so I know the importance of hearing protection.

My two children, now 12 and 10, have typical hearing, so far. I first noticed my hearing loss in my mid-20s, so we won’t know if they have an issue for a while. In the meantime, I work tirelessly to help them protect the hearing they have now. In case they begin to have issues later, they might as well start from as strong a point as possible!

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When they were young, it was easy to get them to protect their hearing. I didn’t buy them earbuds (or iPods for that matter) and I put the earplugs in myself whenever necessary. Even a few years ago, they were willing to listen to me and use earplugs on their own when I wasn’t there to enforce it, as evidenced by the summer camp photos. But it gets harder every day.

Peer pressure has begun to rear its loud and ugly head so they are less willing to listen to my advice. They still take the earplugs with them to a loud party or sporting event, but the earplugs come home unworn or are “forgotten” in a coat pocket. It troubles me that they are now too “cool” to take care of their hearing. I don’t want them to end up like me, missing the joke when everyone else is laughing, and requiring hearing assistance to enjoy everyday conversation with friends and family.

So what’s a hard-of-hearing mom to do? I hoped that seeing my daily struggles would be enough motivation to keep my children interested in protecting their hearing, but it does not appear to have taken hold. Perhaps I will need to take more aggressive action. No movies, no concerts, no dance parties, unless they wear protection. But that is not really enforceable now that they are older and smarter and can easily take photos of themselves wearing earplugs before crumpling them up to put in their pocket as evidence of their usage.

I think the solution is educating new parents about the risks of hearing loss. Parents can make all the difference by requiring their young children to wear earplugs around loud noise, just like they require their kids to wear sunscreen out in the sun or helmets when riding a bike. If the practice starts early enough in life, it will become routine, and that is how real change can occur.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if children would protect their hearing as an everyday habit? It sure would make this mom’s struggle a little bit easier.

Readers, do you teach the children in your life to protect their hearing?

This article was originally published in The Hearing Journal. Reproduced with their permission. 

 Living With Hearing Loss is also on Facebook and Twitter!

9 thoughts on “Please Wear Your Earplugs!

  1. It is hard to impress upon kids the importance of many things! And unfortunately, once those cilia in the ears are damaged…there’s no fix (as of now)!
    We even take our earplugs to the movies—they are so loud! jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com
    midlifeblogger

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  2. Good advice! It is important. I’ve noticed that I rarely seem to see babies & small children with their ears protected at fireworks displays these days. When I was a kid, it was pretty standard that our ears were protected for those.

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  3. I often think about this when I see young people constantly connected to their music through ear buds & how damaging that would be for their hearing long term. I’m glad that didn’t happen when mine were young.

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  4. When my kids were young, I would never let them have the music or TV on loud because, as I told them, they could damage their hearing. I think they appreciate that now. If I go to the movies with friends, I wear earmuffs because the sound is too loud. Thanks for the suggestion of ear plugs instead of earmuffs. My DH was a Navy fighter pilot and is extremely deaf from the power dives. He has hearing aids in both ears now. ( Thank heavens for the V.A. which takes very good care of him.) But I think there is a generation of people who have suffered, or will suffer eventually from hearing loss due to loud music as you describe.

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