Tweens on Wheels
Tweens love speed and motion as much as anyone. Some children heed parents' safety warnings, use good judgment, and are careful not to hurt themselves. Still, they sustain some bumps and bruises as they whiz through the neighborhood on scooters, bikes, and skates. Little daredevils seem to have to learn the hard way and may sustain some nasty injuries before learning what they can manage and what is too much. Taking away your tween's wheels from time to time may be necessary to help convince him to exercise some restraint and caution.
Remember that admonishments not to do “this, that, or the other” are of limited benefit. Teach your child the rules of the road for bicycling, what hazards to watch for when skating, and how to minimize danger during skateboard falls. And make sure she always wears a SNELL- and/or ANSI-approved helmet.
Tweens love these updated versions of old-fashioned scooters, but they are controversial due to the many serious injuries they have caused. The consumer product safety commission reported that 9,400 injuries from Razor scooters were treated in emergency rooms in 2000.
Most of the injuries resulted from falling off the scooter. An estimated 60 percent of injuries were deemed preventable or could have been far less severe if the child had worn appropriate protective gear, so they may not actually be more dangerous than bicycles and skateboards. A well-fitted helmet and knee and elbow pads are essential. Scooters with handbrakes are safer than those without.
Scooters are great for sidewalks and driveways but should not be ridden in the street. If your child has a folding scooter, instruct him to be careful of the hinge, which can easily damage fingers and toes.Bicycle Safety
There's nothing like the sense of freedom that comes with being able to roam the neighborhood on a bike. There's nothing like the sense of power that comes from riding with no hands and doing wheelies. Nevertheless, bicycles have their dark side. They are second only to automobiles when it comes to childhood injuries. In 2000, more than 373,000 children age fourteen and under received treatment in hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries. Wearing a helmet decreases the risk of head injury by as much as 88 percent! (Data provided by the National Safe Campaign Web site,
Be sure your child knows to ride with the flow of traffic rather than against it, to stop at stop signs and traffic lights, and to signal before turning. Be sure he knows, too, the important clichés: “Better to be safe than sorry” and “Better to be wrong than dead right.”
If your tween needs a new bike, plan ahead! Watch for end-of-summer sales on bicycles and other sports equipment at stores and check under the garage sale and merchandise listings in the classified sections of the newspaper. Splurge on a sturdy bicycle pump, spare tubes, a tire patching kit, and a bicycle tool kit.
When it comes to buying a skateboard, quality does matter. More expensive models are sturdier, so comparison-shop before buying. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that approximately 26,000 people make visits to hospital emergency rooms each year for treatment of skateboard-related injuries. The primary culprits are insufficient protective gear, failure to maintain the board, and irregular riding surfaces. Sixty percent of injuries are to children under age fifteen. Prime risks are to children who have had their skateboards less than a week because they fall off, as well as those who unexpectedly encounter an irregular surface while doing advanced stunts after riding for a year or more.
Take the time to read
When skateboarding, children should check for pavement holes, bumps, and assorted debris. They should not skateboard in the street, where the risk of being killed in a car crash rises dramatically. Protective padding and helmets should not restrict movement, vision, or hearing. They should be taught how to fall properly to minimize injury.In-line Skates
Wearing a helmet is an important safety measure for skaters, but it must be of good quality and fit properly to provide maximum protection. Some have cushioned padding inserts that make it easier to adjust the fit. The helmet must fit snugly without restricting hearing or vision. Wrists, elbows, and knees are most likely to bear the brunt of a fall, so children should be outfitted with wrist guards, elbow pads, and kneepads. Skaters should use the same hand signals as bicyclists to signal when they are about to turn or stop. Don't let your tween skate near traffic wearing a Walkman. He needs to be able to hear approaching vehicles.
Knowing how to swim is not enough. Tweens must be able to tread water and handle emergency situations. Enroll your child in a swim class. If she is too afraid of water for group lessons, get private lessons from a certified instructor.