Bike Safety Rules

Once your child has a bicycle helmet that fits them properly (see my post entitled Bike Safety for details), they are ready to learn some basic bike safety rules.  Rather than just discuss these rules with your children and send them out on their own, I would suggest that you go on a bike ride or two, to practice these rules in the real world and solidify them in your child’s mind.

These bike safety tips are provided by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, in cooperation with the Ontario Cycling Association (source: Young Cyclist’s Guide):

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  • Ride in a straight line on the right side of the road, in the same direction as traffic (usually one half to one metre from the curb or from parked cars).
  • Stop at the edge of the road, stop at red lights and stop signs.  Look to see if the road is clear.  Look all ways.
  • Always look over your shoulder behind you before you turn or move out on the road.
  • Signal – let drivers know what you are going to do next (click here for a review of bike signals)
  • Look ahead down the road to see if there might be danger ahead.
  • Get off your bike to cross at a crosswalk or busy street.

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In addition, I have included a number of tips of my own (things I found myself teaching my daughter when we were ‘touring the neighbourhood’):

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  • When coming up to a cross street or corner, slow down and put your hands on your brakes so you are prepared to stop, then look around to make sure there are no cars before you proceed.
  • Be aware of cars in driveways to ensure they are not backing up (look for the back-up lights).
  • When turning corners, try to stay close to the side and not swing widely into the street.
  • If multiple bikers, ride in single file with a decent distance between you and the person in front of you (if they stop suddenly, you will have a better chance of stopping).
  • Ride with your hands on the handlebars and don’t carry things while riding.  Also, make sure nothing is hanging off your bike, as it may get caught in the spokes, gears, or pedals.
  • Make sure pant bottoms are held securely in place so that they don’t get caught on gears or pedals (e.g. I often use a piece of Velco or an elastic).
  • Wear proper footwear that is securely fastened to your feet (flip-flops are notorious for falling off or getting caught in bicycle machinery).

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We can’t be with our children 24/7, but if we teach them the skills they need to stay safe, we will be able to breathe a little easier.  For information about the equipment children should have to stay safe on their bikes, read my post entitled “Bike Safety“.

Bike Safety

This time of year is a great time for a bike ride and children typically prefer this mode of transportation to walking, as it gets them to where they’re going in a hurry.  However, their freedom and independence can sometimes get the better of them and they forget all about bike safety (let’s face it, kids tend to subscribe to the belief that they are invincible).  Before you let your kids head off on their bike to a local park or a friend’s house, be sure to teach them basic bike safety skills.

The first thing to teach them is the importance of wearing a helmet every time they ride their bike (even if it’s just on your driveway).  “Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent” (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).  Many states and provinces have laws in place requiring the use of helmets for “children” (typically anyone under 16 to 18 years of age), and some even legislate bicycle helmet use for people of all ages.

It is important to know that other types of helmets (e.g. those used for hockey or other sports) do not provide the protection a child needs when riding a bike.  In addition, a helmet must be worn correctly to provide protection in case of a fall or accident.  Read this article by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, to find out more about this important piece of safety equipment and how to make sure your child’s bicycle helmet fits them properly.

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Click here to read the full article.

In addition to helmets, there are other key pieces of bike safety equipment.  This includes things worn by the rider, as well as attached to the bike, for increased safety.  For further information, read this article by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

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Click here to read the full article

Keep an eye out for my next post, where I will outline basic bike safety rules to teach your children.  It takes a little extra time and effort to prevent a bike injury, but it’s well worth it!

To learn about other ways you can keep your children safe this summer, read my posts on Water Safety and Beach Safety.

 

Impact of the media on body image

We can’t really underestimate the impact of the media on body image.  In this digital age, kids are relentlessly exposed to ads and other images that promote and promise external “perfection”.  In fairness, it’s not like striving for the socially-defined “ideal” is a new concept (case in point, corsets, foot binding, plastic surgery, etc.), it’s just that it has never been so easy to get this ‘ideal’ continuously in front of our kids.

In addition, the images themselves have never been so deceptive.  Photoshop and other photo editing software, have taken ‘airbrushing’ to a whole new level.  We’re not just talking about smoothing out some laugh-lines…whole faces are transformed and bodies are re-sculpted to meet society’s completely unrealistic idea of ‘perfection’.  Watch these YouTube videos below for examples of this ‘magical metamorphosis’ taking place (it is really amazing, so check it out!).

Body Evolution (by Tim Piper)

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Kristen Stewart Photoshop Makeover (by InfectiousPerfection)

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Show your kids these videos so that they can understand why they will never look like the people they see in the media (after all, at the end of the day, the person of which the image was taken, doesn’t even look like themselves).  We have to start promoting a more realistic and positive body image for our children!

If you are concerned about making sure your children have a healthy body image, you may also wish to read my post entitled, “Body Image“.

Body Image

The summer is supposed to be a ‘carefree’ time of year, but the truth is, for many kids, it is a time of anxiety and self-consciousness.  No longer can they ‘hide’ behind the bulky clothes of winter…summer wardrobes are much more merciless.  We don’t like to believe that our children are spending their youth worrying about how they look in shorts, but the reality is that this sort of body image anxiety is becoming more and more prevalent, and at younger and younger ages (I talked to a number of parents who told me that their daughters spoke about being ‘fat’ from as early as 5 years old).

Truthfully, this has always been an issue to a certain extent (I remember comparing myself to pictures of Farrah Fawcett in teen magazines and coming up woefully short), but exposure to such images was limited, compared to today.  These days, kids of all ages are bombarded with images of “perfection” everywhere they turn, via magazines, TV, video games, YouTube and social media.  Unfortunately, they are simply not equipped to see it for the marketing ploy that it is and to realize that such perfection is not realistic or, in many cases, healthy.

It used to be that concerns about body image were considered to be a “girl issue”, but this is certainly not the case anymore.  Exposure to an endless stream of images where men have perfect “six-pack abs” (including video game characters and comic book superheroes), has led boys down the same road of body image angst.

This dissatisfaction with their own bodies, can sometimes lead children to experiment with unhealthy, and even dangerous, conduct.  Unproven diets, bulimia, plastic surgery, over-exercising and steroids are only some of the risky behaviors that are tested, in an effort to attain “the perfect body”.

I came across some videos by Common Sense Media, that do a great job of outlining the main body image issues for each gender, and providing some tips to help parents talk to their children about what it means to have an healthy body image.  Click the links below to view these videos in YouTube.

Girls & Body Image  (YouTube video by Common Sense Media)
Boys & Body Image  (YouTube video by Common Sense Media)

Children’s bodies go through a lot of changes in their journey to adulthood, and sometimes the path can be a little rocky, but if we can convince them to be patient and to focus less on external beauty and more on what other things make them unique and special, there is a good chance that they will make it to adulthood with their self-esteem intact.

 

The Great Outdoors – Tick Prevention

We definitely want to encourage our children to spend time outside, but we should also teach them how to keep themselves safe while doing so.

When I was young, I remember my Mom removing a tick or two from my body.  I was a little grossed out, but there wasn’t a fear of being infected with a serious disease as a result.  Today, depending on where you live, a tick bite could infect your child with any number of possible diseases, so learning about tick prevention could actually save their life!

Ticks have been a particular concern for me (just ask my husband and daughter who get sick of hearing me talk about it), since we like to do some geocaching, which often takes place in wooded or grassy areas.  Campers and hikers would also more commonly be victims of tick bites, but the truth is, you could get them in your own backyard!

Luckily, there are some fairly simple ways to prevent tick bites.  I was even fascinated to find out that it is now possible to buy clothing that has been treated with a substance called Permethrin, that kills ticks but is of no danger to you (good for up to 70 washes).  This substance can also be bought to treat your own clothes, although it is only effective for 5-6 washes.  The most important thing to treat are your shoes, as ticks can’t jump or fly, so generally make their way onto your body via your shoes.  For more information about Permethrin and treating your clothes with it, go to the TickEncounter website.

The below website is a wonderful resource, as it includes almost anything you would ever want to know about ticks, including tick prevention tips, pictures of various types of ticks throughout their life cycles for identification purposes, and instructions on how to properly remove a tick, should you or your child get one on you.  Check it out!

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 Click this link to read the full article.

The last thing we want to do, especially in this age of child obesity, is to give kids a reason NOT to go outside to play.  With a little bit of tick prevention knowledge, we can teach our children how to keep themselves safe in the great outdoors!

If you want to keep your children safe outdoors, you may also be interested in my post on “Identifying Poison Ivy“.