All too often I notice kids not wearing life jackets (also known as “PFDs” = Personal Flotation Devices) in potentially dangerous situations. In an effort to help get kids to wear life jackets, we’ve outlined our best tips below.
PFDs should be worn for any play near or on the water and it’s important kids practice using them before they are on a boat.
Also, just because you are an expert swimmer (which I consider myself to be and definitely stretched this as a teenager), doesn’t mean you are immune from water hazards.
Cold water, cramps, and other unforeseen dangers can affect the very best swimmers.
Get Kids to Wear Life Jackets Tip #1: Require children to wear a life jacket every.single.time they are on or near the water.
If our kids are fighting us on something like life jackets, they lose the privilege of swimming or the boat ride.
Yes, I know, way easier said than done, but less of a battle in the long run. We suggest helping them getting used to it while wearing it at a local pool (if they allow it – not all pools will.)
Get Kids to Wear Life Jackets Tip #2: Start at a young age and make it standard
Honestly our kids have all gone through stages where they have a terrible time moving around in a life jacket, usually at about a year and half or when they just start walking. While we feel bad for them, we make sure they wear it anyway.
The life lesson far outweighs their temporary discomfort. Thankfully these days there are many options for comfortable life jackets for kids of all ages.
Get Kids to Wear Life Jackets Tip #3: Make Wearing a Life Jacket “Cool”
Take your kids to talk to a respected someone with lots of knowledge (in this case a professional sailor, kayaker, or anyone else that wears a life jacket for their “cool” job every single time.)
If you don’t know anyone that fits in that category (we don’t..) that you maybe watch some videos of professionals doing their thing, and point out that they are wearing life jackets.
It’s also great to see adults having a ton of fun wearing life jackets like in the photo below.
Get Kids to Wear Life Jackets Tip #4: Wear a lifejacket yourself.
I can’t stress this one enough – if you want your children to wear their life jackets, you MUST wear yours also. They are watching carefully and your example matters. All too often adults don’t wear the PFD as they SUP or boat and get into tricky situations unexpectedly.
Get Kids to Wear Life Jackets Tip #5: Invest in a quality life jacket.
The cheap ones are uncomfortably and itchy. No fun for any kids (or adults) to wear. Avoid any rubbing or rashes by wearing a sun/rash shirt. It makes a huge difference.
Get Kids to Wear Life Jackets Tip #6: TALK to them about the WHY.
It’s important to point out the potential dangers, review again that even expert swimmers wear them and sometimes it’s not about us, but about the other dangers out there.
My kids in particular are ones that want to reason constantly – they need to know WHY they have to do certain things, besides “because Mom told you to”.
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