Would you let your child drive a car without making sure they knew the rules of the road? What is one of the things we hope our children get out of playing team sports? How to follow the rules and work well with others. So it makes sense that when your child hits the surf or you drop them at the skate park that they know what they are doing.
I live in a coastal area, as do many Australians. The other day I was chatting with a boy of about thirteen about surfing, I asked him if he knew the ‘etiquette’ of surfing. He looked at me puzzled. This inspired me to start asking around. In my community skate parks are getting more and more popular. So I asked the skaters the same question. To their credit most of these young surfers and skaters knew not to ’snake’ anyone, which I think means to wait their turn. That’s a start at least. But there’s a lot more to it than that.
The youngest child that goes surfing on his own in my neighbourhood is nine and I’ve seen kids as young as seven get dropped off at the skate park on their own. I am not going to discuss what age kids should be participating in these activities on their own, this is not what I’m getting at. What I want to know is-Do your children know the etiquette? Especially if you are not a surfer or skater yourself. Do they know how to behave out in the surf or at the skate park? Not following etiquette will make them pretty unpopular to say the least and can get them severely injured. Being in the wrong place when someone is surfing a wave or coming down a ramp at top speed is very dangerous. Also some older guys can get pretty cranky when younger people come along and disregard the rules either in the surf or at the park.
This is unacceptable, however if you make sure your child is polite and follows the rules they are a lot less likely to get their heads chewed off. I find the older surfers and skaters are mostly very helpful and friendly, as in any situation there is some one from time to time that is just basically not happy and wants to take it out on someone.
Talking about surfing and skate etiquette is a great way to open up a conversation with your child. You may be surprised at how much they know and they can teach you something new or it might be a great opportunity to learn something together.
The Surfing Handbook has a very comprehensive list of surfing rules, complete with drawings. If your child surfs and you don’t have a look at it with them.
At the skate park things are a bit different. Our local skate park can get very crowded and even toddlers are there while parents are otherwise occupied with their brother or sisters soccer game or other activities that go on at the park. I have witnesses some really lovely gestures by children, taking little ones by the hand and keeping them out of harms way. If your child is there as a spectator, make sure he or she knows where to sit or stand to watch the action. While you’re at it make sure you know where to be, not only will your child most likely be embarrassed if you are in the way, you could get injured.
Fat Tony at Transworld bmx.com has a list of ten things bmxers should not do while at the skate park. There is some mild foul language and the photos are very ‘interesting’ but it is a good read. Most of the advice applies to all riders.
Finally, here is a beginners guide to skate parks from rollerwarehouse.com
Surfing and going to skate parks are great ways to stay fit and learn social skills. As parents we can help our children enjoy their time outdoors by making sure they know the rules. Ask your children if they know the rules of the surf or their local skate park. Did their answer surprise you?
Art of Parenting
image courtesy of surfcrs under a Creative Commons license.