My five-year-old daughter hadn’t been riding without her training wheels for long. She could pedal and ride along fine after getting an initial push from me, but she was determined to be able to start up on her own. So off she and I went to the park to practice!
She kept trying to get going on her own, sometimes insisting that I not help and other times directing me at how exactly I should help. She fell sometimes and I’d hear minor expressions of disappointment (“Aw, man!”) or grunts or groans. But she’d always get up and insist, “I’m okay!” and hop back up and try again.
After 15 minutes or so, she finally did it! She hooted and hollered and was so proud of herself. The next time she tried, however, she fell. She didn’t get physically hurt, but it seemed that she was finally ready to let out all of the frustration she’d been collecting throughout the long ascent of the learning curve.
On the ground, where she fell, she yelled at me, crying, “Mommy, you should have helped me!”
I got down on the ground with her, letting her be angry at me while I listened. “I hear you, sweetheart. I’m right here helping you now,” I said calmly.
“I don’t want your help!” she cried, batting me away. I stayed close, though, listening and pouring in my warm attention, ignoring stares of people walking by in the park.
After five or so minutes of tears, she wanted to give it another try. She’d wiped that window of frustration and it seemed her confidence was renewed. She didn’t get it the first time, and there was a little whimper of disappointment. But she got it the next time, and the next, and the next, and the next.
When she saw her Daddy a little while later, she gushed with pride about what she could now do, and she talked excitedly about her next trip to the park, when she would practice how to brake. A couple months later, I am happy to report that my daughter needs no help while biking, and rides with confidence when riding solo, next to me, or alongside her friends.