As we walked up to the skate park, I turned around and saw my son was no longer following me. He had received a skateboard for his 7th birthday the week before, and I wanted to take him to the city’s biggest skate park to show him the kind of tricks the big kids can do but he was nowhere to be seen.
I walked around some bushes and found him. Arms folded on his chest, head bowed down, he was scared and intimidated by the kids and didn’t think he would fit in. This skateboard park was crawling with teenagers. My son was seven. I could see why he was worried, after all he’d only had his board for three days.
Still, I reassured him he belonged, told him we were just here to watch, and I pointed out some of the younger kids on the other side. He slowly unfolded and followed me around to the back of the park.
Fifteen minutes later, my son was rolling down hills, trying to perfect tricks in the most dangerous sport for kids, and I was beaming.
Solutions Research Group recently asked parents about the sports our kids play. They ranked them on cost, popularity, participation, and perceived threat. When parents were asked which sport is “easy to be injured participating?”, skateboarding topped the charts.
The most dangerous sports for kids break down like this:
Skateboarding Is The Worst?
And here I was, pushing my little chickadee out of the nest with his very own board and wheels. What was I thinking?
Well, along with the new skateboard, my son received a package of elbow and knee pads from his grandparents for his birthday. He always ‘buckets up’ when riding anything with wheels. He’s a safety conscious kid.
Yes, I was a little nervous watching him roll down the hill for the first time. Then I saw his instincts kick in. When he got too fast, he jumped off. When he couldn’t steer away from a wall, he jumped off. He never once fell — he was careful.
Let Them Test Their Own Boundaries
I thought back to the skiing lessons he took earlier in the year. (Skiing is 4th on the dangerous sports list btw). Zacharie was cautious and careful in his skiing but quickly moved to taking bigger risks as his confidence grew.
At the end of his first lesson, he asked to ride up a taller lift. He was a couple of hundred yards away from me, at the top of the hill. And he just swooped down. The video I took has him beaming as he glided past while I yelled, “SLOW DOWN! SLOW DOWN SLOW DOWN!”
I was freaked out, but the kid was in control. He was learning to be his own person, control his own destiny, and while the personal boundaries he pushed may have made me nervous, he was learning that practicing something makes you better at it.
Last night, my wife came along to the skate park before we had a summer evening family ice cream treat. While I was worried in my head about that first visit to the skate park, she was more vocal. I could hear her sigh and squeak beside me as he bounced over cracks and slid dangerously past edges. She called out asking if he was okay only to be brushed off. As with many skate kids, Zacharie would try something, fail, get back to the top of the hill, and try again. Skateboard is this wonderfully perservering sport where kids are constantly encouraged to try, get better, try something harder, and level up again.
How Dangerous Sports Will Help With Homework
So, yes, I let my son skateboard. It’s good for his confidence. He’s as bubble wrapped as he can be, and I’m certain that by next weekend he’ll be begging to dip into one of the bowls, and by the end of the summer he’ll be trying jumps and flips, but when I see where he gingerly started and how his confidence will soar as he tries harder, I’ll embrace it.
As we try and get him to read, write, and do more math, these sorts of lessons will be invaluable. “Yes, reading is hard now, but remember how hard skatebording was? Look at you now. Practice and you’ll get better,” I will repeat to him.
This winter he’ll take a few more skiing lessons before ultimately winning the whine and moving into snowboarding (#7 on the list) by the end of the season. Karate (#10) will be part of the fall activities as will gymnastics (#9) that will likely include trampolining (#8). While we seemed to have successfully dodged hockey (#6) in our family, there will still be a lot of ice skating on the neighborhood ponds.
I will embrace them all as chances for my son to fall, get up, and try again. And if he breaks something, twists something, or scrapes a knee, he’ll learn about rules and boundaries and being careful. Win. Win. Win.
How dangerous, expensive, or popular are the sports you let your kids play? Check out the full research study results here.