Just like riding a bike

Practice —and the guidance of loved ones — makes perfect when it comes to giving

You’ve got this!

Who of us hasn’t at one time or another held on holding on for dear life the back seat of a child’s two-wheeler as he or she zigzags down the sidewalk for the first time — sans training wheels? It’s a huge milestone for them in crossing the threshold into independence, self-reliance, and responsibility, through multiple attempts, a few tears perhaps, even a phase of giving up before at long last, “I can do it,” is declared in a few-seconds solo ride. Of course, your smile is bigger than theirs in this special moment.  

Learning how to ride a bike is an integral part in growing up. Learning how to give is, too, though it’s not given the same airtime. If you compare one to the other, you’ll see the process of teaching is similar.

Show by example Kids naturally want to do what you are doing. If you ride and your bike trips have involved your children since they were toddlers, they’ll want to graduate to having their own bike as well. If you are donating to the local St. Vincent de Paul, they’ll want to, too. Toys and baby books may be the first on the giving list.

Start them young Whoever invented training wheels, God bless them! Literally supporting young riders before they can balance on their own, trainers give kids a sense of freedom while keeping them safe. Having a sense of giving is like riding: you prompt, advise and gently steer your daughter to share in this period when she still has her emotional training wheels on.

That first solo ride Confidence has been built along with a bit of impatience to ride like older brother. It’s time to remove the training wheels. Maybe in a day, maybe in a week or two, the first flight occurs and there’s no turning back. Similarly, the first urge to give happens especially if your son is witness to your repeated acts of kindness. From sharing to “I want to give her my toy, Daddy. Can I?” Here encouragement is super important without deflating the moment of generosity for it sets the tone of how you operate as a family. Let the gesture be made even if you have to temper the size or extent of the gift.  

Experience hones maturity Eventually, your kids are out riding on their own or with friends. Repeated excursions around the block, into the woods, to the park and back, extended group rides strengthen sense of self and well-being. There may come a time when their giving muscle goes beyond a one-time flex to a full-blown regime to thoughtfully donate and raise funds for others.

Yes, giving is like riding a bike It’s healthy for your children to be outdoors – out there with others but for others, too, not only enriching your family but the community as well. Giving is a good thing.