Children are wonderfully curious. If you’ve just started wearing hearing aids, chances are your kids or grandkids will want to know all about those mysterious little devices in your ears—why you wear them, what they do, if they can play with them ...
Older kids may already understand the basics of how hearing works, but how do you explain hearing loss to a young child? And how can you guide children to more effectively communicate with you?
Talking to kids about hearing loss will help them understand your experience, improve communication and strengthen your bond. It will also encourage them to practice healthy hearing habits at an early age. Here are a few activities ways to teach kids about the sense of hearing and hearing loss—plus tips for hearing aid safety with little ones.
Hearing aids have tiny parts that can easily be damaged, misplaced or swallowed. If you spend time around very young kids, practice these safety tips:
Telling children you don’t hear well is one thing—but showing them what it’s like to have a hearing impairment can help them better understand your experience. Here are some simple, relatable activities to demonstrate what it’s like to have hearing loss:
Build kids’ awareness of different types and levels of sound with this fun activity. Explore different sounds around the home or yard—the blender running, an alarm clock beeping, leaves rustling in the trees. As you study each sound, ask if they think the sound is “good,” or pleasant to hear, or “bad,” unpleasant. Ask them to explain what they like and don’t like about each sound.
Say a child points out that they don’t like the sound of the blender because it’s “too loud” or “hurts their ears.” You can explain that very noisy sounds can actually damage our ears and lead to hearing impairment. Teach them to cover their ears around very loud sounds (or even better—gift them a set of earplugs).
For this activity, have the kids help you measure the intensity of different sounds to see which ones are too loud. Download a free decibel meter app, such as Decibel X or NIOSH Sound Level Meter (these allow you to accurately measure sound levels through your smartphone’s microphone). Explain that a decibel (dB) is a unit used to measure the loudness of a sound, just as we use the unit of pounds to measure weight and inches and feet to measure length. Near total silence measures at about 0 dB, a whisper is around 30 dB and a normal-volume conversation is around 60 dB. Any sound above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss.
Seek out a variety of sounds around the house or neighborhood and use the app to measure decibel levels. Note which ones fall at or above 85 dB.
Noise measurement of common sounds:
Explore our guide to decibel charts for more detailed information on understanding safe hearing ranges.
Does your son, daughter or grandchild adore animals? Share these fun, hearing-related facts to spark their interest in learning more about their own sense of hearing:
Explaining hearing loss to a child in your life can be a great learning opportunity for her to explore her own sense of hearing. With these fun activities in hand, you’re sure to have a delightful, educational time together.