Make your kids eat their vegetables, wear sunscreen, helmets while on their bikes…but where are the lessons about loud noise causing hearing loss?

Does the following describe you as a parent?
• My kids must have fruit with their lunch.
• My kids must wear a helmet when riding a bike.
• Elbow and kneepads are mandatory when inline skating.
• No outdoor playing in the sun without sunscreen.
• Brushing teeth is mandatory before bedtime and in the morning.

Notice anything missing? How about:
• My kids are taught to enjoy the TV and music at a reasonable volume instead of blaring.
• Loud toys are banned. “Children’s toys clearly have the potential to do harm to their hearing,” says Dr. Brad Backus, a researcher at University College London’s Ear Institute, in a report about the potential hearing harm of loud toys.
• Ear plugs are required at loud venues such as fireworks displays, movie theatres and sports events.
• Training my children to use “indoor voices” rather than shriek and scream during play is mandatory.

“…regular exposure to screaming children, sports events and/or bars and restaurants increased the risk by 1.4 times,” says a 2006 report from Ohio State University researchers (Edwards et al) on hearing loss.

The risk in this case is a benign tumor called acoustic neuroma which causes hearing loss.

The tumor typically develops in adulthood, but childhood exposure to loud events definitely count towards the cumulative effects of loud noise on hearing.

“It’s not surprising that the longer people are exposed to loud noise, the greater their chances become for developing the tumor,” says Edwards in the report.

My brother and sister-in-law are strict about sweets consumption:

• Anything containing high fructose corn syrup is forbidden.
• They’ve eaten ice cream in the presence of their older daughter while refusing to let her have any.
• If she’s had more sweets than usual that day, then extra salad is required at dinner.
• Milk must be organic and fat free.
• When my mother gave the baby a tiny cheese cracker after supper, my brother had a fit.

These same parents, however, allow the one-year-old and three-year-old to scream and shriek at ear-splitting volumes during play, denying that this can cause noise-induced hearing loss over time.

It’s one thing if the preschooler screamed IN PAIN when his fingers accidentally got caught in a closing door.

But the shrill shrieking during play is excessive and done out of habit rather than an instinct out of sudden physical pain.

Even the shrieks at the supper table, for no apparent reason, contribute to cumulative exposure to loud noise.

The parents do nothing, so it’s not an issue of “We’ve tried everything and Hollie still shrieks.” No, they have done NOTHING. But heaven forbid if the older child, who’s thin, sneaks a Hershey Kiss.

Making Kids Wear Ear Plugs
As kids get older they may pull these out when Mom and Dad aren’t around, but at least during their younger years they had all that hearing protection—and that really counts!

On the other hand, don’t assume kids will pull them out as they get older.

Just as some older kids value the application of sunscreen, some may very well understand the importance of ear plugs – if educated well by their parents!

Loud sources of entertainment include balloon popping, attending auto races and tractor pulls, amusement parks and air shows.

My brother, as like most parents, won’t require ear plugs, but the irony is that he and his wife will be militant about the consumption of soda, cotton candy and other sweets sold at these events.

My brother made his older daughter wear, against her will, a jacket with built-in sunblock when she was on a golf course all day watching her cousin play college golf.

She kept complaining of being hot, yet the sunblock jacket was required.

But it’s okay for her ears to be two feet from shrieking screaming siblings who’ve never been trained to control their behavior.

The baby never shrieks when I’m in the same room because I’ve trained her not to, so again, it’s not an issue of “It’s impossible to teach a one-year-old not to shriek.”

And certainly, the three-year-old (whom I haven’t gotten around to training) can be taught.

Very few parents instill hearing health habits in their children. To excuse this with “Kids won’t listen” is a load of bull, because these same parents, like my brother, can be very strict about other things in the name of health.

Growing up, I was told, “No dessert unless you eat your vegetables.” I gagged on the beets. Yet the concept of hearing protection to prevent hearing loss was never introduced to me as a child. What’s going on, parents?