In the real world kids get tired, squabble, whinge and whine. I live in the real world! So what do you do if you are out riding and the kids are finding it tough going? After making sure they are physically sorted (fed, comfortable) it comes down to emotional support and distraction. Here are ten ideas you can adapt to suit your family:
- Stop and eat. Kids need to take breaks and eat more often than we do.
- Sing. Pick their favourite song, or yours and start singing. Even if they beg you to stop it is still a distraction.
- Play the senses game. What can they see, feel, taste, hear, smell? A major distractor.
- Stop and play. Time off the bike doing something else: e.g. playground, pooh sticks, hide and seek.
- Give a helping hand. A gentle push on the small of their back providing some extra momentum, carrying their gear, towing options.
- Tell stories. Made up or true, both storyteller and listener get engrossed.
- Make up nonsense poems. Another distraction with the benefits of laughter on mood and energy.
- List the things they’d like to do at the end (or rather be doing). What you resist will persist: if they are complaining then let them get it off their chest. Empathise. Spare the lectures: if they don’t want to be grateful right now so be it.
- Recall other tough things they’ve handled. Using story telling, remind them of a time they’ve conquered something tough. Stuck for ideas? What about some stories about them learning to walk (or ride!).
- Provide a sports commentary or news report in a silly accent. Getting everyone laughing is a great distraction and a sports commentary helps you acknowledge that they are doing something challenging for them as part of a team.
I can’t emphasis enough about stopping and eating. When we post-mortem times when our kids haven’t managed well, we often find it was all came right after they ate. That might mean stopping and eating before you’ve even really started. Often by the time you get everyone to the start of the ride the kids will need refuelling already. Resistance is futile: even if you want to get moving it is worth stopping and feeding them. Also make sure they are drinking plenty of water, especially on hot days. Dehydration makes for irritable, unhappy kids.
I know distraction works. On gruelling training rides I’ve been known to fantasise in detail over chocolate mud cake, sing, make up poems and have lots of crazy ideas (like writing a book….)
What are your top tips for dealing with kids who are finding it tough when you are out riding?