latest Double Oak Mountain Life magazine article

the latest issue of Double Oak Mountain Life came out this week….below is the article i submitted in its original form (prior to editing/shortening) and without the photos of my kids riding their bikes…

 

Now that Winter is beginning to leave us, with the hope of nothing but sunshine and long days ahead as we gear up for Spring,  this is the perfect time to start teaching your children how to ride bikes on their own.  Perhaps Santa Claus brought them a new bike for Christmas, or they are simply ready to remove the training wheels from their existing bike.  Either way, your child is going to need your help to be able to master the art of balancing on only two wheels.

 

My wife and I have gone through the process of teaching two of our kids how to ride bikes, with our third child hopefully ready for her first training-wheel bike later this Summer.  Our experience with our first two children differed greatly with each of them, but we did learn some valuable lessons.

 

#1) Be encouragingly patient.  With our oldest daughter, she would get rather intimidated by the thought of balancing her bike without the aid of training wheels.  I removed her training wheels late during the year, with the hopes that by the time Winter arrived she would be a pro.  Instead, the harder I pushed her to get out and practice, the more she lost interest in riding altogether.  So I spent the cold months telling how much fun we will have riding our bikes around the neighborhood together once the weather gets warmer.  Rather than try to force her into riding when she wasn’t yet comfortable, we practiced patience until one day she told us she was ready to learn again.

 

#2) Sibling rivalry is great.  It wasn’t until our middle child really took interest in riding without training wheels that our oldest decided she wasn’t going to be outdone.  Having them both wanting to learn at the same time really gave extra motivation for Big Sis to get there first.

 

#3) Incorporate destination riding.  While your kids might just enjoy it for the sake of riding, my kids are a little more apt to spend time on their bikes when they know they have a real place to go.  Oftentimes it’s the local park or the corner store for a snack.  Sometimes that extra little incentive will help me to get them away from the TV and onto their bikes where we can spend some quality time together outside.

 

#4) Dress appropriately.  I’m not referring simply to wearing helmets and proper shoes, which is a given.  You should also be prepared for their clothes to get dirty or even torn if they do any multitude of things on their bike.  Falling down on pavement or dirt could certainly stain or tear clothes, but also keep in mind that long shirts can drag across the tops of rear tires, or that ruffled pants legs can collect chain grease.  There are also plenty of mud puddles that might be pedaled through, leaving dark mud streaks up the back of your daughter’s new Matilda Jane outfit.  I am guilty of making this mistake more often than not.

 

#5) Mothers can teach, too.  If you ask my wife who taught our kids how to ride, she likely will say it was her.   And really, there is a lot of truth in that.  While I might have been the one to do most of the talking (and maybe threatening) of teaching our kids to ride, it was my wife who would help them do it after school while I was at work.  If it weren’t for her doing that during the week, my weekend lessons might have been a little less smooth.

 

#6) Teach your kids to be aware.  They need to be aware of the dangers of riding without a helmet, and should also be taught to be aware of their surroundings.  While helmets have become second nature in my household, I am still constantly harping at my kids to make sure they are always on the lookout for cars, traffic signs, and even pedestrians that might otherwise not see them coming.  Many of us in the Double Oak Mountain area live in tightly-spaced neighborhoods without a lot of open space, thereby decreasing the amount of long-range visibility.

 

#7) Have fun.  That’s really what it is all about, right?

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