"Mom, I want a skateboard!" is a phrase that most moms are going to eventually hear, but it's rarely welcomed. Visions of scraped knees and accidents come to mind – things that are avoidable by foregoing the purchase of a skateboard. But there's no need to deny your child a skateboard. Studies show that skateboards are safer than bicycles and are made even more so through the use of proper safety equipment and by teaching kids how to use the board. Rather than dreading the announcement that your kids want a skateboard, show them how to ride one safely and let them enjoy their childhood.
Buying the Right Skateboard
Image via Flickr by wZa HK
Resist the urge to go cheap on the first board. Inexpensive skateboards are made from low-grade materials that break under moderate use. Spend a little more on a laminate wood board and good wheels that are made with durable materials. The idea is to give your kids something that they can learn on without destroying it and then asking for another. A laminate deck holds up better under the use and abuse that it will inevitably undergo. Wheels that roll with little resistance reduce overall strain on the rig and won't encourage the rider to push harder to get speed.
Get the Right Safety Gear
Helmets, elbow, and knee pads are all necessary for skateboarding, but put extra effort into getting a good helmet. Head injuries are the most common injury suffered by skateboarders due to the physics involved. It doesn't take much for a board to stop while the rider keeps going forward.
Pads and helmets aren't the only necessary items however. Grip tape used on top of the deck is also an important safety feature. You'll want to cover the entire deck with grip tape for the beginner, but let your kid change the tape as they see fit as they gain more experience. No good skateboarder is caught without their grip tape, as it makes performing tricks much easier. It's simply better that the entire surface is covered for beginners so that they have some leeway as they learn to balance, accelerate, turn, and slow down.
Put Limits on Where to Ride
You want to make sure your kid stays close to home while they're mastering the skateboard. Skate parks are a great place for beginners, but if they're too far away, skateboarding around the home is the solution. Have them stay in the driveway or on the sidewalks away from busy intersections and roads. Kids are eventually going to want to explore other terrain, but only let them go farther when you're confident that they've mastered the basics and a bit more.
Skateboarding is a fun activity that uses excess energy and helps develop coordination skills. Getting the right skateboard and protective gear reduces most of the risk and injuries associated with the activity. As long as proper safety is observed and rules are followed, the sport doesn't have to be dangerous.