At what age did you or your children learn how to ride a bike without wheels? Was it easy? Who taught you? I was amazed when seeing a little child riding all by himself.. How could I teach my daughter too? The answer came unexpectedly.. When I saw how my daughter learnt to ride her bike for an ice-cream. If I only had known her better!!
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Bike and independence
For my daughter, her independence has begun with learning to ride a bike without wheels. She starts off, all by herself, and flies away with a big smile. This is the first time I feel proud of having taught her all that, when seeing her so happy with herself. I forget all the frustration we experienced during a long winter of unsuccessful attempts.. So, here’s the (true) story of how my daughter learnt to ride her bike for an ice-cream.
Is there a technique? I asked myself several times. I saw a lot of children, even a lot younger than she was (4, almost 5 now), walking past our window with the assurance of a bicycle veteran, and constantly asking me this question: but how did their parents do?! Why can’t we do it?
I looked on the internet, like many of you probably, and saw the usual captivating titles : “5 steps for teaching your kid to ride a bike“; or “how to teach your child to ride a bike in 45 minutes“; or even in 30 minutes! Doesn’it it feel frustrating at times? Like.. Partly you hope it will work, and partly you know it’s going to be a lot harder than that..
Chronicle – Us and the bike
I must say that we do everything by bike. For me, it was a revelation. I grew up in Genoa, a city squeezed between sea and mountains, where the bike is more likely used as a sporting activity in the free time, more than as transportation means.
Cycling for me was a Sunday morning activity, when we would go walking by the sea with my parents. The real “addict” of the bicycle was my grandpa, on my mother’s side, who always told me: “I even go to the toilets with my bike” and who, in fact, at 90 years-old still goes around by bicycle.
I lived with him and Granny during my studies at the university, in Milan, and their apartment was so far from the university and badly connected with public transportation, that my grandparents gave me a bike as a present for my 20th birthday.
I have never quit it. It was sometimes very uncomfortable, during heavy rains, when I arrived all soaked at 8 a.m., and then little by little I developed techniques like putting plastic bags around my shoes so as not to get wet, under the stunned eyes of my university mates.
Bike with the children
In short, even with 2 children, the bike is not negotiable for me, so since the birth of our 2nd child, we use our trailer, and we go everywhere. Until now.. my daughter is almost 20 kg, and I’ve started to ask myself how to handle all that weight.
One summer day, my daughter starts asking us for a big-girl bike, because she saw her friends with it (and Peppa Pig). Soon enough we find a second hand one, and begin to try (we hide quickly in the garage of the building, to avoid major accidents with passersby!).
How my daughter learnt to ride her bike for an ice-cream – When learning is more difficult than you’d think
Except that .. it’s difficult. And my daughter discovers that it takes time, patience, effort. She wants to drop it, telling us “I wanted it of a different color!” (Rage on our side). My husband loses patience very quickly, so I take over.
And I try, every weekend, to take her to the garage, and make her ride for at least 5 – 10 minutes. She cries. She doesn’t want to, she is afraid. Then she cries more.
There are always arguments. I don’t know if what I’m doing is right or not, if I will only get to the result of making her hate her bike. Where is the right balance?
Because I also want her to learn that she needs to do some efforts when she wants to obtain the results she set. That sometimes she needs to fight. That she must persevere.
And besides, we need to find a solution for our daily commuting. I go on. She goes on hating it. Power struggles? Am I a bad mother? From time to time, I think I even tried to make her feel guilty – horror! At school, they have bikes that they can use when they play outside, but she does not even look at them.
Then one day, spring comes. We carry the bike outside. Lots of people line up in front of the local gelateria, my daughter would also like to have a nice ice cream. And my husband has the idea: “If you want an ice cream, first you have to go around the square with your bike, all by yourself”. And there, she goes! In front of our incredulous eyes. She learned. That’s how my daughter learnt to ride her bike for an ice-cream..
In just 2 weeks, she wanted to go to school riding her bike, which is 5 km, so 10 round trip. And she made it, so now we ride together every day, except under rain. From one extreme to the other. She adores it. And I love being able to show her that when she works hard, she gets where she wants. That she needs to hold on, don’t despair, insist, and train ; and the results will come, and it’s going to be worth it. (I admit it, there is also a part of “I was right! I was right my daughter !!!)
And I hope that this repeated experience is forged in her neural connections, to remind her of all that when she finds herself in other, bigger difficulties, to believe in herself, and in knowing what she can achieve.
What about you? Have you found it difficult to teach your children to ride a bicycle? Do you have any tip to share? Do you need any advice? Please leave a comment!