Progress Not Perfection

My oldest son has been 2-wheeling it for a few years now and we recently transitioned him to a "big kid" bike. 

He is struggling. 

He's eight and pretty much at the tail end of the recommended height for the size of the bike, but we thought it would be good for him to have the bigger bike so our little one can use his old bike. 

But there are challenges. 

The balance is different. This new bike is a lot longer, and it’s heavy. It is almost like re-teaching him how to ride a bike.

And I know it is all our fault -- my husband’s and mine. We need to take them to the park more often to practice. The area around our home is pretty hilly and we have a steep driveway, so it's not really ideal for learners.

But with the pandemic, we got lazy and had a really great excuse not to take our bikes out.

When we finally made it to the park, I thought the huge loop path would be a good place to practice. However, I didn’t take into account that the loop has some elevation which makes it harder for the kids.

My oldest couldn't quite get the balance right. He is typically really hard on himself and was getting super frustrated -- walk awaying and muttering to himself before coming back to the bike after falling off it. 

I wasn’t sure of the “right” thing to do in this case.
Do I encourage him?
Do I bribe him?
Do I leave him alone and let him figure it out by himself?

I didn’t know, so I kind of did all three. I left him alone muttering to himself until he was ready to try again. I then told him he was doing great (he was) and then bribed him with hamburgers and milkshakes (his favorite meal).

And you know what? He never gave up.
Every time he lost his balance he would keep trying.
Every time he made progress.
Every time he moved forward.

I let him know that this was tough, but that he is tougher.
I am so proud of him. 

When we finished the loop, he started walking away from the bike so I asked him to talk to me. I asked what was going on. He told me he was frustrated and it was hard. I reminded him, “You did it. You completed the loop.”

“Yeah, but it took me so long,” was his reply.

“Yeah, maybe. But last time you weren’t even able to complete the loop and you ended up walking your bike the last part. This time, it was tough, but you rode your bike the whole way! I hope you are proud of yourself and can see what you did.”

You could see his mind working as we discussed all that completing the loop meant. 
He eventually told me he was proud of himself.  

It is important for us to see our progress.
Oftentimes we get stuck in our own heads and focus on our “failures” and struggles and aren’t able to see our progress and success. 

I would like to believe that this is completely normal, mostly because I do this all of the time. I think it is important for us to reframe those thoughts and look at our progress and how we keep moving and growing.