The problem: How do you handle a 6-year-old girl who cannot ride a bike without training wheels? She has no desire to learn to do so.
Low road: Remove the training wheels when she’s asleep. Tell her that Santa needed them for the tricked-out sleigh he’s constructing for this year’s Christmas run.
High road: How wonderful that she enjoys this exhilarating rite of passage and, also, that she knows what her limitations are. She’s got a great head on her little shoulders so, please, make sure she’s wearing a helmet.
I wouldn’t bat an eye at a child of this age riding a bike with a little assistance. If it helps, I first rode without training wheels at age 8, about the same time I stopped sucking my thumb. Hey, third grade was stressful! We had to learn cursive! My older brother didn’t utter a word until he was 2. Now he’s president of his law firm. Remember that developmental guidelines are simply that: guidelines. For the precocious exceptions, see Facebook.
We cheat our children of learning to trust their best instincts if we force them into boxes. Unreasonable expectations might also lead them to quit doing something they once loved. Your 6-year-old eventually will ask you to take off the trainers, perhaps because she’s ready, but equally likely, because a same-age peer says something not terribly kind. At least it won’t be you saying that. Your kindest response is one of whopping enthusiasm as you run alongside her and her two wheels, assuring her that she is more than ready to master this exciting moment.
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad.