Dear Dr. Renee,
Spring is here and we are so excited to be outside. My 5-year-old son just learned to ride his bike but he doesn’t stop at the end of our driveway as requested. We live on a relatively quiet street with a long driveway but still…
Concerned for safety,
I love that your son is out riding his bike (energy burner!!). Safety is something I talk about putting in the “A Basket” in my Discipline Decoded course. You need to respond no-matter-what.
At his age, his impulse control is not well developed. That means there will be more work on your part for a bit. Providing safe boundaries and teaching him how to control his impulses will be key. The time and effort you put in now will help him in the long run.
Be concrete when possible. In this case, that is simple. You can put bright cones at the end of the driveway or draw a thick line with chalk. This provides a visual STOP cue for your son.
Redirecting your child or catching him before he mis-behaves is important! You can do this by making a positive statement as he heads toward the end of the driveway: “I love how you are getting close to the line but haven’t gone over it!” You are prompting good behavior before it happens while reminding him of your clear expectations.
Be prepared to drop what you are doing if (when) your son does not stop at that line. Every. Single. Time.
I am all for warning first – you are teaching your child a lesson. However, this is not a ‘throw him in the pool and see if he can swim’ kind of moment. That is why you need to be willing to respond immediately if he crosses the line.
Get him as quickly as possible and try to respond as matter-of-factly as you can.
This is often easier said than done. However, if you can make a calm statement, you show him that you mean business and are going to follow through.
Here are two matter-of-fact statements you can try out:
“Kids who follow directions get to ride bikes.”
“I’m sorry your body doesn’t want to follow directions. I expect it will remember better next time.”
Then, put the bike away and go do something else. You can both practice again another time.
Wishing you lots of sunshine and energy-burning bike riding,