Today my youngest daughter finally learned how to ride a bike. She is 8, going into 3rd grade and had planned on never riding a bike. She thought it was scary, didn't want to fall, felt like the pedals were stuck, blah, blah, blah. Her list of excuses was a mile long and was really cute at one time. But, at age 8 these excuses were no longer cute and were just annoying. She is the "baby" of the family and wears that title like a badge of honor. The rest of us are sick of it and I believed that overcoming this fear would start to diminish the role of baby that she so proudly wears.
So, today after 3 years of trying to teach her to ride a bike I put on my mean parent hat and marched her outside. She of course cried the whole way down the driveway, her helmet on somewhat crooked begging to put this off for just one more year. I refused to give in to her pleas. I told her to get on the bike and to stop crying. The start of this process was not easy. She cried, I lost my patience, I would let go of her and she would inevitably lift her feet off the pedals every time I let go. After 10 minutes of her screaming and of course probably making the neighbors believe I was beating her I let her stop. In my frustration, I pulled out the big guns, "I am very disappointed in you." I rarely say that to my children for a couple of reasons. First of all, I am rarely disappointed in them. As long as they try their best, I am not disappointed. The second reason I rarely say that, I save it. Let's be honest, when we were kids nothing got us to do what our parents wanted more than that phrase. So, I say that very sparingly, kind of my get out jail free card. My secret, it always works. Today proved to be no different.
After spending about 20 minutes in her room crying, Maeghan came out and told me she would like to try again. I promised not to loose my patience, she promised not to cry. After about 4 good pushes, she got it. She really did. She rode that bike like a champ and ended the session very proud of herself. In fact, now she wants to ride and tells me how fun it is. She is wondering why she was so scared. I guess only she can answer that question.
So, I guess that sometimes it is okay to be a pushy, overbearing parent. Sometimes it is okay to lose your patience and sometimes it is okay to force your child to do something that they don't want to do. Had I continued to let her dictate this milestone, she would not know that she likes riding her bike. I am really proud of her and I am not going to feel guilty tonight for my tactics today, even if they may seem unorthodox to some people.
Posted by eschley at 3:38 PM