How to keep your child’s hat on their head this summer without stapling it on!

As parents, we all know how important it is to protect our children from the dangers of UV radiation. We also know that often blood, sweat and tears are shed (by you) in the battle to get your child to wear their hat when they are out in the summer sun.

Sometimes, it feels it would be easier to wrestle with an anaconda than convince a toddler not to rip their hat off the moment your back is turned. And while we’re the ultimate believer when it comes to parenting you need to pick your battles, this is one area where you actually have to win, so here are our top tips for keeping your child’s hat where it’s supposed to be.

Buy a hat with a strap

Sometimes the most obvious solution actually works. Especially for toddlers, buying a hat that is difficult for them to wrench off makes your job a whole lot easier.

Many hat models come with straps, but make sure the hat you buy has a strap that contains a breakaway safety feature so that the strap will break if it gets caught on something.

Wear a hat yourself

Kids are the eternal copycats. This trait is sometimes to our detriment – like when they decide to repeat in front of the grandparents that choice word they learnt from you when you dropped the toaster on your toe. However, when it comes to your battle to get them to wear a hat, you can use their copycat tendencies to your advantage. Just make sure you are always modelling the sun-safe behaviour that you want them to replicate.

Be consistent

This is one of those hallmarks of parenting that’s easy to say but a lot harder to do! The battle to get your kid wearing a hat will become so much easier if they learn to expect that they will be wearing a hat every time they go outside. Sunsmart.org.nz website recommends wearing a hat every time you go outside from September to April. And don’t forget, even on cloudy days, 80% of that pesky UV radiation still makes it through the clouds.

Choose a hat that fits well and is comfortable for them to wear

None of us like wearing uncomfortable clothes (okay, we’ll ignore some of those unfortunate outfit choices we made when going clubbing back in our twenties), and hats are no exception. When choosing a hat for your child, make sure it can be easily adjusted to fit your child’s head and pick a fabric that breathes well and has features like ventilation panels for comfort.

Don’t forget that not all hats are created equal – like with sunscreen, fabric provides different levels of sun protection. UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Fabric) is a measure of how effectively the fabric blocks UV radiation. Look for a hat that is rated UPF50+.

Let them choose

Let’s face it, childhood is a pretty powerless time and part of why kids often battle over things like hats is they are trying to assert some autonomy over their body. One way to get them on board is to let them think they are getting a choice in the matter. The key here is to never give open-ended choices, instead offering them a choice of two options and make sure you are happy with both options.

If possible, involve them in buying the hat from the outset – but obviously only show them options of hats that provide all the sun protection they need, hats with UPF50+ rating and that have a wide brim.

If you can afford it, think about buying two different hats and let them choose on a daily basis which hat they want to wear (but make sure both hats offer the same high level of sun protection).

Make it worth their while

If nothing else works, you can always resort to some good old-fashioned bribery…. (aka incentivised parenting). This is where your child gets rewarded for keeping their hat on their head. You don’t have to provide big rewards, something small will usually do the trick.

If you have to go down this path, look on the bright side – at least they are learning valuable lessons about capitalism at the same time as staying sun-safe!