Friday, June 3, 2011

Of Two-Wheelers and Motivator

Confession: Sometimes I have a hard time knowing when to encourage and build confidence and when to make my kids do something when they don't want to.

About a month ago now the boys wanted to work on getting their training wheels off their bike--mostly the 4-year old. To be honest, he was riding a bit with them off last summer, but in the midst of our move and everything we didn't get back to practicing, so the training wheels were on through the fall. And so this spring, after a bit of riding around with training wheels, he determined he was ready to get them off.

My almost-7-year old also wanted them off. Kind of. At times. And at times he was content with riding with training wheels forever. He sometimes only likes to do things if he's able to do them well. And, as we all know, learning to ride a bike takes a lot of practice and often comes with some accidents. And he didn't want to go through all that--especially the falling part.

So we kept encouraging him. We knew he could do it if he kept trying. We knew he'd enjoy the freedom of not having training wheels. And we were hoping for some bike trips this summer. So we kept trying to build up his confidence.

That didn't necessarily work, though. He was still content to not learn to ride a two-wheeler. So, I admit, there were times when we almost forced him to try. Bike riding is a life skill. It's something our family does. We weren't going to let him not learn. But that didn't necessarily work either.

I think it was a combination of confidence-building, making him do it and also seeing that his younger brother was doing it well. Maybe envy is the strongest motivator.

Whatever worked, worked. And both boys have been riding continuously the last month (seriously--my 4-year old rides the sidewalk around our yard and then through the gates as often as he can). Yesterday we had our first "long" trip from school to the library to home. It was just over a mile. They were on the sidewalk mostly as we still need a little more practice and time to learn the rules of the road before they take to the streets. But there's hope for some fun rides this summer.

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