Head injuries are no laughing matter. Trauma from bike riding, motorcycling, skating or football accidents can lead to neurological disease and behavioral issues. One study in Scientific American even shows prison inmates are seven times more likely to have suffered a traumatic brain injury in the past. Of course, getting your children to understand this danger is akin to convincing them candy is yucky. If your child will not listen to you, then try these simple demonstrations to get your point across:
The brain is a mass of nerves floating in cerebrospinal fluid protected by the bones of the skull. The Brain Injury Association of New Zealand uses a raw egg as an illustration for the brain and skull. In this, the yolk is the brain, the whites are the brain fluid, and the shell is the skull. Shake the egg and ask your child what is happening on the inside. The egg whites are protecting the yolk, but if you are violent enough, the yolk will pop.
To get your point across, create an ovo-accident, and vary it depending on the type of activity that you child enjoys. If your kid is in football then take two eggs and slam them together. Be a little more aggressive than normal for effect, making sure to break both the shell and the yolk.
The next time you or a family member has a bruise, use it to your advantage. Cerebral contusions are a form of traumatic brain injury in which the brain is bruised. More than a million people in the United States suffer cerebral contusions annually. When one of your children has a bruise, use it as a prompt for a lesson on bruising your brain. In severe cases, bruising of the brain can require surgery to avoid damage that can cause mood changes, seizures and even death.
Let your child know that a head accident without a helmet can lead to swelling of the brain. This condition, called cerebral edema, can get very bad, very rapidly. This is an extension of the lecture on bruising. When the brain bruises, it can fill with fluids and swell. As the brain expands, it runs out of room within the skull cavity and pressure is placed on the nerve matter. This condition can be fatal.
To illustrate the point, place a balloon inside a bottle and begin blowing it up. As the balloon inflates, it will run out of room in the bottle just like the brain inside the skull.
Now is the time to bring the lessons home. Take an egg and wrap it is some protective packaging. This is what a helmet does. To encourage them, start looking at cool riding helmets. This is the part where a good parent flips the script, making protective head gear a fun fashion statement as well as a lifesaving sports accessory.