How to cope with little daredevils

The interest in high-risk sport has exploded over last decade, especially amongst children of primary school age who are longing to master the skills in sports that, until now, have been dominated by their teenage peers. So, what is the attraction of alternative sports and how, as potential party-poopers can we parents reduce the likelihood of injury?

The Appeal of Extreme Sports Extreme

sports offer a more free-spirited approach to being active. For some, the confinement and structure of traditional sports such as football or netball seems limiting. And at an age where youngsters are craving independence, sports such as skateboarding, climbing, BMX biking or surfing offer the much sought-after freedom and challenge. Yet, despite the appeal, if a child isn't mentally disciplined or hasn't acquired the basic skills they are likely to hurt themselves. And it's this threat of injury and risks involved that poses the greatest worry for parents.

Keep them safe

Yes, it's a fact of life - we cannot wrap our children in cotton wool. Besides it's not healthy for them. And if you have a son or daughter who possesses a passion for anything adrenaline-filled, then get clued up quickly on safety equipment and seek guidance from experts who know how to reduce the likelihood of injury. Okay, but how do you convince a child to wear protective equipment? After all, he or she may consider it un-cool. Well, if they object to wearing safety gear, you may wish to highlight the following: Professional extreme sport athletes always wear protective clothing. The majority of accidents can be avoided by wearing protective clothing. If your child, for example, wants to take their skateboarding skills to the next level, then they cannot afford to get injured. Serious bruising, brakes and sprains take time to heal, which could equal weeks or even months away from their much loved passion. Safety must be priority and not fashion. Children also need to understand the basic etiquette of their chosen sport and to consider the safety of others too. These essential skills are taught at specialist schools, who also teach the correct procedures for falling over! And practice makes perfect. Tricks and skills are acquired through endless hours of persevering. So children should be encouraged to take their time!

Cycling - BMX and Mountain bikes

Today you see young BMX riders racing around a circuit of raised corners and jumps. For serious off-road riding, mountain bikes take the rider off the beaten track and let them explore un-cycled territory. Find out more from British Cycling, at www.britishcycling.org.uk.

Skateboarding

The skateboard has come a long way and many local councils have recognised its appeal and accommodate for its young following by building skate parks on local recreation grounds. Just expect your child to return talking a different language - just so you know - Ollie's and Kickflips are names of tricks! Go to the UK Skateboarding. Association website at www.ukskate.org.uk.

Surfing

If you are lucky enough to live near the coast or are planning a holiday by the sea, chances are your child will feel driven to master the skills of the extremely hip sport - surfing. One of the more traditional extreme sports, they will be challenged by a fresh set of waves each time. Find the British Surfing Association website at www.britsurf.co.uk.

Climbing

Conquering Mount Everest may be a part of the future game plan, so learning the basics on a climbing wall in a safe controlled environment will help them up to reach their goal. They can also enjoy the thrill of abseiling back down! Advice for young people on The British Mountaineering Council website at www.thebmc.co.uk/youth.htm.

Kayaking/Canoeing

Children can learn basic kayaking & canoeing skills in their local swimming pools, rivers, lakes or reservoirs. For more go to the British Canoe Union website at www.bcu.org.uk.

Diving

As soon as children can swim they can learn to snorkel and as they get older, master the basics skills of diving. To find out more go to www.padi.com.

Quad Bikes

Enjoy all the action on four sturdy wheels. Specially designed quad bikes are designed to measure up to a child's size. Watch the thrill on their faces as they whizz around a dirt track or over grassland controlling these motorised vehicles.

Martial Arts

Bruce Lee, eat your heart out! Disciplines that belong under the Martial Art banner require focus, self-belief and respect. There is the added bonus that your child will acquire better self defence skills and confidence as a result. Seek out the British National Martial Arts Association website at www.bnmaa.co.uk

Other reasons to love extreme sports:

They encourage children to challenge themselves. They are considered cool and 'hip' amongst peers. There are always new tricks or skills to learn. Compared with many traditional sports there is less pressure to win. By conquering the fear associated with high-risk sports, a child's self-confidence will grow. Children get to spend more time with their friends and have fun. Challenging sports command respect, focus, discipline and endurance. Children are able to freely express themselves

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