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Is Your Child Ready to Ride an ATV?

Kids simply love off-road riding, and an ATV would be the ideal vehicle to get them started. An ATV provides the opportunity for young people to develop self-confidence and learn new skills while exploring the outdoors. However, along with the fun comes responsibility, since the ATV is a heavy vehicle and definitely not a toy. Parents need to determine whether their kids are ready to handle an ATV, and here are few guidelines that can help you decide.

Child Size

An individual has to be big enough to reach and operate the controls of the ATV, and at the same time have enough strength to yield the vehicle for off-road riding. If you have chosen a model, first get your kid to sit on the vehicle, to see how he or she measures up. Check to see if your kid's arms are long enough to reach the handlebars comfortably, and are able to turn the bars fully to the left and right.

Next, see if your child has the required strength to work the throttle and squeeze the brake lever; then check whether their feet are reaching the foot controls comfortably. Ask your little one to stand while holding the handlebars. Is your child able to raise themselves at least three inches of the seat? They will need to do this while riding.

Estimating Coordination and Judgment

If your kids are able to ride a bicycle or skateboard, they should be able to handle an ATV quite well. Off-road riding needs good agility, balance, and hand-eye coordination. You need to consider whether your kids are able to analyze problems and are able to react quickly to avert accidents. As a parent, you also need to consider whether your son or daughter is able to accept his or her limits and is able to follow instructions.

If your little one is still relatively small and has poor coordination and judgment, then you need to wait for him or her to mature. Your children will be excited to start immediately, but you will have to explain to them patiently why they are not ready. Perhaps their coordination is improving but you may still want to wait a couple of years before they become a little stronger and so their motor skills are more developed.

Supervision and Training

If you feel your kids are ready to ride the ATV, you still have to supervise them in the beginning and provide certain basic training about safety principles. Make sure your kid understands all the cautions and does not take things lightly.

It is best to start by providing your kids with hands-on training from a qualified instructor. The first class can be off-road on a relatively flat space, with a track that winds its way through some small bushes or grass. However, before your kids start their training make sure they are properly dressed and are wearing DOT-approved off-road helmets. Other safety gear includes sturdy boots, goggles, a thick jacket, long pants, and gloves.

Even after your kids have become skilled at off-road riding, they will still require supervision from a responsible adult on all rides.

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