Posted by Marion Rice on December 5th, 2008 at 10:53 am
[Editor's note: This article is by our Family Biking columnist Marion Rice. Marion previously wrote about how to keep kids warm and dry on the bike. Today, she offers up her tips and thoughts about what to do when your little ones don't feel like hopping on the bike (which is something that I bet happens to all families at one point or another).]
Sometimes my kids say they don’t want to go by bike.
"I also have to admit -- I keep emergency chocolate in my Xtracyle bag."
We do have a car and the mere presence of a motorized, temperature controlled cocoon creates the potential option for using it. I often wonder how other bike commuting parents deal with this and what they say to get their kids going when they don’t want to.
Explaining why we don’t use the car during the week and having my kids share in the power of not using the car has been rewarding, even on the rare days I have to plead the case.
On the days when my six year old has second thoughts about biking this is usually how the conversations goes:
Griffin: "Mom let’s take the car, do we HAVE to go by bike?"
Mom: "Well, we choose to go by bike because it’s better for our bodies and better for Mother Earth."
Griffin:"I really don’t want to"
Mom: "Griffin, today there is no reason we can’t take the bike, we always have fun and let’s just get out and go. We don’t need anything but our bodies to make the bike move and that is pretty powerful, if you want to ride on the Xtracycle or take your scooter instead you can."
More often than not, Griffin complies and goes by wheel, whether it’s his bike, scooter or on my Xtracycle. Sometimes he gets on his bike in a bad mood, but shortly after taking off he perks up. We don’t yield and take the car unless there is a health or safety issue that would make taking the car or public transportation the wiser choice. Travis, a bakfiets-commuting Dad whose family also owns a car describes what he says to his children aged 3, 5 and 8 this way:
"My sons do understand that the money we don't spend on a second car, or even on driving the only car, is money we can use for something else. Not as a reward or token, we have talked about how money saved from not having a car or driving it around a lot is money that we can use for Disneyland.
For me, this works well as it supports the idea that life is about choices and you cannot have everything at the same time. It also helps my sons to understand sacrifice: we sacrifice the luxury of a car for the fun of Disneyland."
Most often I pick my 2-year-old up from childcare with a snack to be eaten on the bike, French bread and a sippy cup of milk or juice. Usually she gets right on the bike and starts munching away. I ask her about her day and we have an enjoyable ride home. Every once in a while she doesn’t want to get on the bike and throws a fit. This has also happened on weekend rides doing errands.
The first thing I do when the meltdown is imminent is to hold her close. I wait quietly until she has calmed down enough to talk. This is sometimes hard especially if we have somewhere to be on a schedule or people are staring at my fitful child and I sitting on the sidewalk somewhere.
Once she has calmed down we talk about what song she wants to sing or what unique sight we can go see on the way home. She loves the hot tub you can see from the Broadway Bridge, especially when it's all lit up at night and glowing that aquamarine color (I agree it’s pretty cool). Lately, seeing all the holiday lights in the Pearl and in neighborhoods on our way home has been a huge draw.
I also have to admit -- I keep emergency chocolate in my Xtracyle bag. I think that we all can use emergency chocolate every once in a while and she doesn’t just get it when she throws a fit. I am aware that I don’t want to reinforce having fits by giving her chocolate and so far the judicious use of it has worked for me.
What do you do when your kids don’t want to go? How do you handle it? More advice and ideas from everyone is much appreciated...
-- For more of Marion's Family Biking articles, click here.Email This Post Possibly related posts