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Encouraging your child to find ways to stay active can be a challenge, but what happens when your child becomes attached to a sport or activity that is dangerous?

Some parents might be experiencing this exact situation if their son or daughter has recently taken an interest in skateboarding.

While skateboarding has been around for decades, the safety of the sport has not changed. Skateboarding is still considered an extremely risky activity for kids, and children younger than 5 years old are advised to avoid riding skateboards at all.

Why Is Skateboarding So Dangerous?

Skateboarding is an activity that requires significant balance and coordination. Some kids are naturally comfortable on a deck and four wheels, but most kids will need to practice (and fall) a lot before they master the feeling of riding a skateboard.

Skateboard falls can vary in severity, but it is often the slower speed tumbles that can induce the most harm. Sprains, concussions, and broken bones are all common injuries for new skateboarders that can be prevented with the right gear.

It is important for new skaters and their parents to invest in quality safety gear, like helmets and pads. Research name brand pads that will protect your child's hands, wrists, knees and elbows. Always use a CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) certified hard foam helmet that is rated for heavy impacts.

Street skateboarding as a discipline has grown in popularity in the last few years thanks to televised skateboard competitions. Unfortunately, professional skaters often choose not to wear helmets during competitions, creating one of the worst examples for young riders.

Beyond the individual safety aspect, finding a safe place to skateboard can also be a challenge in some communities. Parents should encourage their kids to ride their skateboards only at designated indoor or outdoor parks to minimize risky encounters with cars and other pedestrians.

Where Can My Child Skateboard Safely?

Look for parks in your area with skateparks that are free and open to the public. Some larger cities have indoor skateparks that often require an admission fee or waiver to be signed.

While "street skateboarding" is an activity that has grown in popularity throughout the years, it encourages riders to skate on the streets and sidewalks which is arguably the most dangerous place to ride.

Supervision is critical for an activity like skateboarding, especially if your child is riding at a public park where other riders may be present. Look for skateboard classes in your area or accompany your child to the skatepark to guarantee the environment is safe for riding.

If your child is set on skateboarding, it is important to discuss the risks of riding a skateboard with your child at an early age. Talk with your pediatrician about ways to reinforce the importance of wearing pads and a helmet.

Matthew Gibson, MD

Methodist Physicians Clinic Regency Pediatrics

Dr. Gibson is a pediatrician in the Omaha area who answers your question about child development and parenting. He chose to specialize in pediatrics, because, "Kids are fun. You get to see them grow, and 'oh my gosh' here's their personality." In working with kids, he gets to be a lifelong learner as he's watching the children grow throughout their lives. He enjoys hearing his patient's stories and learning how he can be the strongest advocate possible for them and to make ...

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