“Guess what happened while at practice today.”, my son said. Groan. A quick look-over revealed no injuries. “What?”, I asked. “You know that 30 foot gap jump on FMX!?” he said… “I sent it.” yikes!
My child is a 10-year old wild-child. It often seems like he never stops doing: moving, talking, laughing, making noises, running, crashing. He wakes up ready to engage and GO. This can be a lot to parents, but don’t misunderstand, he’s an amazing kid. Usually up for anything, excited about life, and new ideas and adventures. He’s an extrovert, has a great sense of humor, and makes friends easily. He helps with dishes, walks the dog, unloads groceries, takes out the trash, and more.
However, there is a downside to having high energy and a body and brain that won’t stop. It can be difficult for him to regulate. As a young child this looked like crying, screaming, and melting down. Now at 10, he can struggle to get into -and stay- in a calm and focused mode. He can be at an 11 when the rest of the room is at a 5. He has trouble staying asleep. It’s very hard for him to be quiet and still. Frustration comes rapidly if others don’t move as quickly as him, or if it takes him too long to learn or complete a task.
Enter biking. My son discovered a love of mountain biking by chance. At six, he was throwing himself into and out of the bowl at the local skate park on his clunker BMX, trying to get big air. So my husband and I signed him up for an enduro mountain biking camp. We sent him off with a dinky bike and a shell helmet, and he had a blast and made fast friends. And kept asking for more. As months of riding wore on, my husband and I noticed some interesting changes. After a ride, our son was calm, focused, and more resilient to frustrations. He slept better and seemed to have better control of his energy needs. He seemed more balanced, and happier.
I love that my son pushes himself and has the courage to take physical risk (even if it scares me). Now my son rides with a dedicated mountain biking race team that trains six months of the year. And there are many pieces that factor into why he rides and loves riding. And this is just one. This aspect of riding has made a positive impact on filling the body movement needs of my son (and myself, husband, and daughter), and as a consequence he’s more balanced and a happier kid.
In my next post, we explore the very real physiological explanations for why mountain biking is so good for a kid like mine and if your reading this, probably a kid like yours.