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Appropriate consequence?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
My 14 ds rides his bike everywhere. We live under a mile from school and he rides to and from school every day. He also goes on rides with friends quite often, rides to the high school to work out with the football team, rides to the nearby fast food restaurant, even sometimes rides downtown or to the library if I am busy. He has asked several times if he can stop wearing his helmet. It is against the law for kids under 16 to not have a helmet on here so my answer is automatically no. I also really want him to wear a helmet for safety reasons.

Today I was told that he has been riding without a helmet. When he got home I let him know he would not be able to ride his bike for awhile and he immediately knew why. He says the kids at school make fun of kids who wear helmets so he doesn't want to and didn't really express any remorse, just dismay at getting caught.

At this point he isn't allowed to ride his bike, unless it is with us, for an as yet to be determined period of time. This will really put a crimp in his style and I'm not sure how long to enforce this. In the end, I'm pretty sure this is a loosing battle for me but I don't feel safety is an area I can compromise on.

Any suggestions? Help!
post #2 of 23
Oh, interesting. Okay I think taking away bike riding privilege is right on. I would maybe let him "earn" his bicycle privilege back but going to a bicycle safety class (try finding on online or calling local police department and asking). It's good he told you why he made the (bad) choice he did.

First thing, the helmet issue. What about offering a less dorky helmet? Wearing a helmet is the rule if he's going to ride his bike, but of course you are understanding that he's having trouble dealing with the social repercussions of following the rules. Check out Bern- head protection http://www.bernunlimited.com/2008/products.html their helmets can be used for a range of sports and aren't noticeably helmets. I think it makes sense to help make the right choice a little easier. And it shows that if he comes to you with a problem you will try to help him fix or deal with it. Maybe next time he'll be more inclined to come to you first before breaking the rules you've set.

Second, THE PUNISHMENT! I think the most appropriate punishment for this situation would be something that helps him understand why your rule is in place. It isn't because you'd thought it would be fun, it's because you feel it's safest and you hope he makes the choice to continue wearing a helmet as an adult. Maybe another poster has suggestions on this, but I would look for some sort of community service which puts him in contact with people do have sustained injuries due to an accident. I'd explain that for the next four months he was to volunteer two hours a week so that he could better understand why the rule is in your family. At the end of the four months I would sit down and have a big discussion about what the longterm risks are of going without. I would tell him he's required to wear a helmet until he's old enough to choose for himself. I'd tell him that I hope that he always chooses to wear a helmet and in the meantime if he's found out not to be wearing it again he will loose his bicycle for six months. Then I would give him a big wet kiss.

Further, I would make sure that all of the adults in your family are also wearing helmets if they are not already! Leading by example is one of the strongest impressions you can make on your children. Good luck!
post #3 of 23
i used to be like that :/

but i ended up buying myself a scooter/roller blading helmet that didnt look as...stupid? yet it still gave me the same security, if not, more.

ya, its a small situation to make such a big deal about but you never know. he may have been taunted about it or something that made him not want to wear it. when i was younger, i wore one, i actually had a drink thrown at me because of the helmet. stupid but it happens.
post #4 of 23
Yes, Bern is a very cool helmet for skiing, snowboarding, skating and riding. I'm not positive, but I think Bern may have been worn by a US Snowboard member or two. Anyway, make sure to check out that the Bern helmet is appropriately safety rated-some are, and some aren't.
post #5 of 23
wow, those are some cute helmets...I want one...I think I need to buy a bike first...
post #6 of 23
I agree with seeing if a different helmet might help... but really, at this point you've pretty much done what need to do, I think. He knew he needed to wear his helmet to ride his bike, he didn't wear it, so now he can't ride his bike. That *is* the consequence. You don't need to add to it artificially.

If he seems willing to wear a helmet consistently at some point in the future, he'll be able to ride the bike again. If getting a different helmet would help, maybe you could offer to split the cost with him.

I think punishing him is likely to backfire: it will add drama to the situation and make him feel more resentful, and also, when the punishment is over he may feel like he's "paid" for his crime and doesn't have to wear the helmet anymore. I would try to think solutions, not punishments.
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
I showed him the cool helmets. He said he didn't think it would matter what his helmet looks like. We discussed how giving in to peer pressure to do something dangerous is not a good path to go down. He hadn't thought about it that way. It is weird because he is usually pretty oblivious to what kids say so someone "special" must have set this off.

Unfortunately, he is pretty much telling us by his behavior that he isn't going to wear his helmet in the future. That is why it is a loosing battle for me. He needs to be able to use his bicycle but I don't feel that I can allow him to when I can't trust him to take safety measures.

He's otherwise a great kid which is why this is difficult for me. I don't want to punish him. I just want him to wear his helmet! I doubt I'll have him do community service but I will most likely have him watch some crash videos. I also have been looking for a bicycle safety class but haven't found one.

So my question to you is would you keep him off his bicycle indefinitely?
post #8 of 23
Do you know if there are any local cycling groups? (Maybe check with your bike shop) My husband and I both go on group road bike rides and everyone wears helmets. Maybe if he could get involved with a group of more serious riders who take helmet riding for granted it wouldn't seem like a dorky kid thing.
I think it's just ridiculous that helmet wearing while cycling has this image as being for children. It's like wearing proper padding and helmets for football, baseball, etc. Adult professionals wear them, and kids AND adults in little league, school teams, etc. have to wear them too.
post #9 of 23
I asked my kids to look at the helmets posted. Both said they really aren't that cool.
post #10 of 23
honestly, at 14, i'd let him be ruler/keeper of his own body. i'd offer consistant (hopefully compelling) information regarding helmet safety (helping him weigh pro's and cons, looking for learning opportunities--all of which sounds like you're doing) but i personally would respect his autonomy and let him ultimately make that call for himself.

what about at 16 when it's no longer illegal--will he be deciding then? imo, lots of things are legislated that really ought not to be. (not that helmet wearing isn't a good idea, but it's personal preference)
post #11 of 23
Originally Posted by Rico'sAlice View Post
Do you know if there are any local cycling groups? (Maybe check with your bike shop) My husband and I both go on group road bike rides and everyone wears helmets. Maybe if he could get involved with a group of more serious riders who take helmet riding for granted it wouldn't seem like a dorky kid thing.
I was thinking the same thing. It's really only teenagers who go without them.

Adult serious riders always wear them

We live in a state with no helmet laws for motorcycles and I often see people on motocrycles without helmets. I never adults on bicylces without helmets, though.

May be if he got a different image -- some men in the 20's who are obviously cool and in shape who wear helmets it might help. How can you make wearing a helmet seem manly?

I take a middle path on the cool things -- my kids can wear what they want, have cool technology, see the latest movies, etc., but there is a line. It's normal and healthy to want to fit in, but it crosses a line when you are willing to put yourself in danger to do so.

The problem with "it's his body" is that if he ends up with a head injury, his mother will be taking care of him. I would try to set things up so that when he can legally make the choice, he'll make the right one, because if he ends up with a head injury at any age, his mother will be taking care of him.
post #12 of 23
Check out these helmets:


My girls, aged 15 and 12, both wear skateboarding helmets for biking. Our youngest has the one with the skull and cross bones. We have the rule: we pay your health insurance, you live in our house, you wear a helmet. We let them pick their helmet, regardless of the price. I understand the need for fashion as well as function, and so our compromise was that we decided to forgo to free helmets from the fire department, and buy the kids the cool helmet of their choice. So far not wearing a helmet hasn't been an issue.

Honestly, though, if it does become an issue, I'm not sure how I will handle it. I will probably mention that, if you can't use good safety judgement and don't handle peer pressure well, that doesn't bode well for getting other privileges, like driving. If a couple of kids can make you throw caution to the wind with your BIKE, do you think I'm ever letting you drive a CAR? You really don't want to wear your helmet? Fine, I can't make you. I'll buy you whatever helmet you want, I'll help you explore and try to deal with whatever might be preventing you from wearing a helmet. But if you continue to make poor decisions like not wearing a helmet because peers say it's stupid, you'll never drive my car, and I sure the hell won't be helping you buy one or pay for insurance.

I agree with Linda, it's his body until his parents are stuck caring for him for the rest of his life because of a traumatic brain injury. Sorry, I'm a nurse and I take care of these people from time to time. Not just the ones who are paraplegics, with bedsores and having to be cathed every 3 hours for urination; also the ones who can't get a job, who have irratic behavior and memory problems, who have subsequently developed drug and alcohol problems, due to a head injury that "didn't seem that bad" at the time. You bet I tell my kids about people like this.

Sorry, your right to do what you want with your body does not mean that you get to act like a dumba$$ with my approval. Do what you want with your body when you really are 100% responsible for yourself. We give our kids a lot of freedom, and let them make a lot of choices because they typically use good judgement. We don't make a whole lot of rules, and when we do, it's always discussed as a family, so that they are part of the process and understand our motivation behind any rules. Wearing helmets is a rule in our household. You don't do it, don't expect to ever drive the scooter or the car, ever. It won't happen. You can't be trusted to be safe on your bike, you certainly aren't going to be trusted to upgrade to something even more dangerous.

So, I wouldn't keep him off his bike. I'd just make sure he understands that, when he chooses to not wear his helmet, he is showing a disregard for his safety as well as the inability to use good judgement and deal appropriately with peer pressure. He's also showing a disrespect for your wishes. These choices will be taken into consideration when he wants to get his driver's license, or when he wishes to stay out later with friends, or when he asks to do some other activity that may involve him having to rely on good judgement. His poor choices now will impact his ability to be trusted in the future, and he will have no one to blame but himself.
post #13 of 23
We have a helmet rule for skiing. There is 100% zero chance my kids will ski/snowboard without a helmet as long as I am paying for the ski pass and doing the transportation. This is one of those areas where the natural consequences of not wearing a helmet could very likely be death or severe impairment. I referenced the Bern helmets--truly the snowboard community has helped make these and other helmets seem "cool". I really feel for the OP. Head injuries are a huge deal.
post #14 of 23
Tell him to tell the UAVs at his school that his mom has said if he wants to drive before he's 18 he'd better wear his bike helmet now. Because frankly, if he doesn't wear his helmet because of idiots now, what kind of BS will he be talked into when he's got access to a car? A kid who gives into that kind of pressure isn't a kid I'd put on my insurance, let borrow my car, or co-sign for a loan to get his own car. ( Lorijds had the same thought.)

If you ride a bike, you wear a helmet, period. The consequence for not wearing a helmet is you don't get to ride your bike. If that means you miss out on fun activities, are late for things, have to look like a dork walking down the street in the rain, too bad!

Y'know, I assumed your community had a lot of adult bike riders demonstrating proper helmet use, so I thought your ds already saw that and rejected it. But if he hasn't really been around adult bike riders, then definitely introduce that.

If he told you that he won't wear the helmet, then I'd buy him a bus pass so he at least has that option without spending his own money.
post #15 of 23
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post
I asked my kids to look at the helmets posted. Both said they really aren't that cool.
To me skaterboarders and snowboarders all look pretty dorky. My kids and I will be wearing the dorky helmets if we participate in those sports because bike helmets aren't designed for that, of course, but under no illusions that we look anything other than goofy.

Here's what I think when I think "bike helmet"
Not doing anything particularly exciting, but they look reasonable.

Here's what I think when I think "skateboard helmet"
He's doing something cool but he looks goofy.
post #16 of 23
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
To me skaterboarders and snowboarders all look pretty dorky. My kids and I will be wearing the dorky helmets if we participate in those sports because bike helmets aren't designed for that, of course, but under no illusions that we look anything other than goofy.
Really, dorky? What's dorky about wearing a helmet? Have you been on the slopes? The snowboarders have a pretty interesting and "cool" look according to my jr. high kiddo and legion of winter sports friends! Although when my kids were younger I didn't really get that culture either. My point is that i'm glad that these kids have adopted safety helmets because it paves the way for something safe being seen as socially acceptable. BTW, same deal w/equestrian helmets.
post #17 of 23
Originally Posted by karne View Post
Really, dorky? What's dorky about wearing a helmet? Have you been on the slopes? The snowboarders have a pretty interesting and "cool" look according to my jr. high kiddo and legion of winter sports friends!
Nope what they do looks cool, but when they aren't in motion, dorky. And if adults who can do those amazing moves on skate and snow boards are willing to look sort of dorky, then no teen, child, or clumsier adult has any kind of excuse for not wearing a helmet too.
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
We've talked some more about this, of course. It too has set off warning bells for me for how is he going to handle peer pressure when he gets older. He says nothing having to do with a car is seen (by him) as possibly being dorky. He sees the idiocy of not wearing a seat belt, or texting and driving, or driving recklessly, but somehow that doesn't compute with wearing a helmet. And this has led into some interesting discussions about drugs and alcohol too.

We aren't in a community where there are many serious adult bike riders. There are a few but the majority of adults who ride bikes around here do so because they have gotten a DUI and do not wear helmets. My husband is planning on taking him to the bike store this weekend to see about bike clubs and stuff like that.

He isn't riding his bike at this point. He has offered up a compromise. He will wear his helmet at all times except in the driveway of the school. I get that he is trying to work with me in a way that works for him but I'm still not comfortable with it. We talked about what about the high school? He rides there a lot. What about when he rides downtown? There are a lot of situations that he rides where it might not be "cool" for him to wear a helmet. Its funny that he has never questioned wearing a helmet when he skates (although he doesn't do that much anymore) or when we snowboard.

We'll keep talking about it but until I feel comfortable that he is going to ride with a helmet AT ALL TIMES he will not be riding.
post #19 of 23
Could you have him put together a bike safety talk for the younger kids in the town? His friends could help out, pull the statistics that we all know but they need to "find" in order to believe, and teach the little guys how to wear helmets. Then you can talk about role modeling and how important it is to wear them for the little kids. Maybe they could earn school credit?
post #20 of 23
DD2 and I had a discussion on bike safety when she was riding her bike around town a lot a few summers ago. It got through to her... kind of. I gave her a book to read, and that changed things. If your son likes to read (the book is probably too young for him - it says 9-12, but if I recall it was well written) try this: http://www.amazon.com/Mick-Harte-Her.../dp/0679882030
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