Battle of Wills – I Don’t WANT to Ride a Bike

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All winter long I begged, bribed and coerced my children into skiing with me. It’s not that they don’t like it. While out on the slopes both Big E and Little G have a great time – laughing, chatting, and racing down the hill. But the fight to get them to the lift is awful. You’d think I was asking them to spend two hours poking themselves in the eye. It’s skiing – fun, exhilarating, joyful.

Now that Spring is upon us and the slopes are riddled with dirt spots I’ve given up the fight and moved on to the next outdoor activity. Biking. 

I’m starting slow. Little g has a balance bike that she refused to ride all last year. I’ve taken it on our favorite local trail twice now. She refused to ride it both times. Big E is still on training wheels. I haven’t taken them off yet this season, but when I suggested he borrow a friend’s balance bike instead he locked himself in the car and refused to go on the trail with us.

Both Big E and Little G have said they don’t like feeling “wobbly” on the bike. I have attempted to explain that practice makes the wobbly feeling go away. But it seems like they don’t trust me where new sports are concerned.

I get it. Trying new things is scary, especially if there’s potential for self injury. But learning to ride a bike has the potential to add so much joy to their lives! I remember begging my parents to teach me to ride without training wheels and feeling so proud when I figured out how it all worked. I want that for my kids. Bike riding is not only fun, it’s a life skill.

Again I am faced with a dilemma. Just like with skiing, my children say they don’t like something, but I know they will have fun if they attempt it with an open mind. How much do I push it? How can I change my approach? Do I emphasize what a privilege it is to ride a bike? How lucky they are for the opportunity? Or do I accept the fact that my kids view bike riding as a chore and put it on their chore charts in the same category as Piano Practice?

One challenge of living near Sundance Mountain Resort is that middle word – Mountain. We live on a slope that would be deadly for a new bike rider, so anytime we want to practice riding we have to go somewhere flat and paved. It becomes an ordeal. Pumping up tires, loading bikes, finding helmets, driving, unloading, arguing, finally getting on the trail.

I want my kids to learn to ride, but not only that, I want them to work at something that’s tough. I want them to get up when they fall. Keep trying. Don’t quit. Have a good attitude even when it’s hard. If they can learn those lessons now, how much easier will their life be?

I don’t have a good answer for my question of how to make bike riding fun. I know I’ll try a few things.

  • Have special one-on-one bike outings with each of them. 
  • Bring Mountain Dad in for support. 
  • Talk about biking with a positive attitude. 
  • Set a family goal. 
  • Find them friends to bike with. 

Maybe some of these things will help turn the tide from constant complaint to reluctant enthusiasm. Hopefully before spring ends I will hear them say something like this.

“Sure Mom, we’d love to go on a bike ride with you.” That’d be a dream come true.

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Author: Mountain Mom

Hi! I'm Mountain Mom. I live with my husband and three young kids in the mountains near Sundance, Utah. When we're not hiking, biking, skiing and camping, I spend my time doing Mom stuff and reading. Summer of 2016 we traveled over 7,000 miles along the US National Park to Park Highway.

0 thoughts on “Battle of Wills – I Don’t WANT to Ride a Bike”

  1. Abigail is very much that way. I decided it wasn't worth the battle and let her ride with her training wheels until last summer. That's when I ended up sending her to a friends house on her bike with training wheels and they sent her home riding with out them. It was a biking miracle!! 😉 For her I've learned it's a control thing. She hates to feel out of control so she will just refuse to do something when she is not fully in control. Andrew is similar but his issues are fear and anxiety. And he's sometimes harder to talk into things then anyone I've ever met. But he learned to ride because allie was doing it and he didn't want her to do it before him. So they both started riding on Allie's 3rd birthday.

    The crazy thing is the three other girls are completely opposite. They begged me to teach them how to ride when they were very young. And Ainsley had me take her training wheels off last fall and now begs me to teach her to ride. So I guess I don't have a lot of good advice. Just know you're not the only one in the power struggle.

    And hey we'd love to go on a bike ride with you guys sometime. 🙂

  2. Do you have bike classes where you live? I put my son in one and it helped teach him to ride. The teachers were great because they knew how to make it fun, how to play games on bikes, and were casual without getting upset (harder to do as parents.)

  3. My neice is 3 months older than my son, and she rode her balance bike like a pro at my kids' combined 1st/3rd birthday party in the park. A couple of my friends kids copied her, and it helped them to all take off. Although I was keen to put training wheels on my son's bike, my husband insisted that we wait for him to transition from balance bike to his pedal bike. He was right, and eventually after ten minutes at the park it happened! Your kids will get there too.

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