For children and young adults, bicycles are not just a mode of transportation but a fashion statement. Your child may request a particular brand of bicycle. It may be a brand they’ve been exposed to on television or a brand their friends like. Your child may tell you that wearing a bike helmet isn’t “cool.” And they make want to wear “cool” clothes and accessories like iPods while riding their bicycles. The pressures to fit in for children are greater than even. Our children are constantly bombarded with flashy marketing champagnes and judgment from their friends about what is and what isn’t cool and gadgets such as a gps locator device. Fighting with your child about bike safety isn’t the answer. Making bike safety fashionable can help you and child find a compromise that keeps them safe.
Bike Helmets: “I’m not wearing THAT thing!”
Buying a bike helmet that meets certification standards from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) seemed like a brilliant idea to you, but when you got it home, your child responded, “I’m not wearing THAT thing!” or something similar. Don’t lose hope. You know how important a bike helmet is to your child’s safety, and while your child may not care so much about the safety aspect of a bike helmet, they will care about the coolness (or un-coolness) of a helmet. Involve your child in the bike helmet buying process. Giving them an opportunity to pick out a helmet they like may solve your bike helmet fashion dilemma. Just be sure that whichever helmet they pick out meets safety standards, and you’re all set! If having them pick out their own helmet doesn’t solve the problem, suggest that your child can “personalize” their helmet to help make it look more “cool.” Paint markers and stickers (from your child’s favorite show or band, etc) to decorate the bike helmet can help your child take ownership of the helmet – making them more likely to wear it.
Reflective vests? You’ve got to be kidding, Mom!
Along with bike helmets, clothes that make your child more visible while riding their bike can greatly reduce the chance of accidents and injury. But trying to get your child to wear bright neon clothes isn’t always the easiest thing to accomplish. Instead of trying to push reflective vests and neon jumpsuits on your child, try incorporating reflective strips into an old jacket or shirt. Reflective strips are easy to sew onto most clothing types and iron-on strips are even available in some stores. Also make sure that your child’s bike has appropriate reflectors.
But I need to listen to music! (Every minute of every day)
A lot of children feel very attached to their iPod, mp3 player, and/or cell phone (which likely also plays music). In today’s technology obsessed culture, children aren’t the only ones obsessed with their “lifestyle accessories.” Be sure to educate your child about the dangers of using such devices while riding bicycles. Music and cell phone usage can be distracting and keep your child from paying attention to traffic or other hazards. If needed, consider holding on to your child’s for safety.