Who came up with that saying? No one that met my children apparently.
Riding a bike is supposed to be one of those childhood rites of passage where the child actually wants to learn and the parent does their best to teach them. Neither of my kids wanted to learn to ride a bike. But since I enjoy biking, I wanted them to learn. So begins my uphill battle.
Both kids have owned bikes since they were little but neither one of them really cared that much about them. They played around with them on their training wheels but neither felt an urge to just get out there and ride.
A few years ago, I forced my oldest to learn. I know forcing your kids to do anything isn’t necessarily the best method but that’s really what it came down to. She didn’t care about bikes and thought biking was hard. And my kids are both of the belief that if anything takes more than 5 seconds to learn it probably isn’t worth it.
One day I decided that it was “the day”. There was crying, a battle of wills and eventual bribing with ice cream, however, after a few hours she was successfully riding her bike. She was thrilled with her accomplishment. It gave her a new sense of freedom and achievement. It was a painful experience for me and all she remembers now is the ice cream but I was glad that I persevered and she figured it out.
Child #2 is my stubborn child. She takes stubborn to a whole new level. I have picked several “days” for her to learn how to ride her bike and I have always given up before her. This past week her sister was off on the other side of the country and it was just the two of us. I had all of my attention to focus on her.
First thing I did was to discuss the topic with her and come up with a suitable reward. Somehow I knew that ice cream was not going to cut it. We went to the mall and checked out some of her favourite toys. That’s when the shake-down began. Not only is my youngest stubborn she is also a born negotiator. Somehow each little success was going to cost me and the final success was going to cost me big.
The next thing I did was google ‘how to ride a bike’. My previous methods were a bust so I needed a new plan. The new trend is to take the pedals off of the bike to teach the child how to glide and learn balance. We watched a few of the videos together, I removed the pedals and we were off. It was a rough start. She was cranky and stiff-legged and not motivated to learn. And I was trying my best to let her take the lead. Our previous sessions had taught me that she was extremely frightened of falling. I needed to pass control to her so that she could feel like she had some power.
Then we came across a spot nearby where the road had a slight incline. The incline was just enough for her to get a little momentum. It was perfect. We only went on that hill 2 times the first day but she experienced enough success that she was ready to tackle it again the next. We discussed what her plan was and she decided to go on that little hill 10 times. On the third day of trying she was up to 20 times. It was time to put the pedals back on.
The pedals took all of her confidence and threw it back at her. We were back to tears and an unwillingness to try. I could not take the pedals back off, she was ready. I just needed to convince her. I had her try the hill a few times while pretending that the pedals were not there, just gliding as before. She didn’t like it but she did it anyways to placate me.
This morning we were back at it, however, she was in a sour mood. She did not want to be out there, she hated her bike and she wanted to take the pedals back off. After much cajoling she glided down the hill twice and then was ready to go home. I was beaten down, the tears were steady this morning. I told her we could go.
There is a big flat part that we have to go through to get home. I decided to take one last stab at it because I knew she was ready even if she didn’t. I held onto the bike and convinced her to pedal. I ran beside her holding onto that bike and then without telling her, I let go. SHE DID IT.
I ran beside her and showed her my hands and she kept going. After that she did it 2 more times. And when her Dad came to pick her up she showed him how she could ride her bike.
If I have done nothing else in this time of unemployment, I have taught my youngest how to ride her bike. I am so proud of her and she is so proud of herself. It was desperately hard and I wouldn’t want to do it again but I am happy. She even ran off to tell her sister that now we can finally go biking as a family.
I’m glad I persevered even when neither of my kids wanted me to. I’m glad they persevered even when they were wishing I would go away and leave them alone. Learning to ride a bike was a struggle for both of them and me but I think it taught us all that even though some things seem scary and hard, we can still do them if we keep trying.