A bike crash is often a frightening and traumatic experience for children – especially if the crash was severe. This can lead to a lot of anxiety when it comes to getting your little one back in the saddle. Sometimes for parents and children alike.
In most cases, it’s best to get your child back to riding her bike as soon as health and safety concerns have been addressed – more on that below. Getting back on the proverbial horse (or bike) will help your kid regain her confidence, and to overcome some of the fear and anxiety that may be lingering from the crash.
However, pushing your child to start riding again can often be counterproductive, leading to more anxiety that will ultimately compound on itself. Gentle encouragement and positivity will help her return to riding when she’s ready.
Below, we’re going to review what to do after a bike crash, and how to encourage your child to get riding again.
Address Health Concerns
Even at slow speeds, hitting the ground is very hard on the body. This means that even if your child did not sustain severe injuries that required immediate medical attention, it’s possible that some damage was done. Getting your child checked out by a physician or a chiropractor is advisable, just to be on the safe side.
If your child hit her head at all during the crash, it is necessary to buy a new helmet, even if her current one wasn’t visibly damaged. Sometimes damage won’t be visible, but it could still cause the helmet to fail in the event of another crash.
It’s also important to get the bike checked out, making sure that no damage was sustained during the crash. After any moderate to severe crash, you should take your child’s bike to a local repair shop to fix any damage that could become a safety hazard once your child starts riding again.
Finally, if a mistake of some kind led to your child’s crash, gently discussing what went wrong and how to avoid similar crashes going forward can go a long way towards preventing future crashes and potential injuries.
If a child sustains a serious injury or is otherwise frightened while learning to ride, it’s likely that there will be some recovery time. Positive encouragement and focusing on the future (for example, the fact that your child will learn to be safe), rather than reviewing the crash over and over again, can be helpful.
It’s also important to remember that different children will return to riding at different times, and some children will require more encouragement than others. However, by staying positive and optimistic, you can encourage your child to give biking a try again.
Don’t Assume a Crash Equals Ineptitude
A bike crash is likely to affect your child’s confidence, and may even lead you to question whether your child was ready to ride. Although it’s important to address any unsafe practices that could have led to the crash, simply letting your child know that accidents happen, and that she is still just as capable as she was before the crash, can go a long way towards rebuilding confidence.
Encourage… But Don’t Push
If your child is reluctant to get back on her bike, let her talk about it: how she feels, how it happened, what apprehension she has now, and her desire to avoid things that remind her of the event. Telling your child how to feel by saying that there’s nothing to be afraid of or that she’s being unreasonable often backfires.
In contrast, letting your kid take the lead and decide when she’s ready to get back to it is often most productive. If she mentions that she’s thinking about getting back on her bike, positively encourage her to do so, but don’t push hard.
Seek Professional Help if Needed
Trauma incurred from early childhood injuries and experiences can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. If you notice changes in behavior and functioning, such as trouble sleeping, problematic social interactions, and general emotional instability, it may be time to take your child to a psychologist.
Also, if your kid was still learning when the accident occurred, or if they’re just plain struggling when they do get back on their bike, taking them to classes or lessons may be helpful as well. Most communities offer bicycle lessons to children. These programs can take the stress out of the process for parents and kids alike – giving you plenty of time to take pictures and cheer your child on while someone else does the hard work of teaching.
About the Author:
A partner at Lawlor, White & Murphey and a distinguished personal injury lawyer, Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civdentil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 Avvo Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for the last four consecutive years (2011-2014). Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.