11 Big-Kid Milestones
When your kid will be ready to ride a bike, stay home alone and more
At first, the only way your child tore up the pavement was in a stroller powered by Mom's or Dad's elbow grease. Even when she moved up to a tricycle, it still seemed tame -- where was she gonna go on three clunky wheels? But all that changes once she's ready for a bike. Most kids can handle one (with training wheels for a while) by kindergarten or so. "That's when they have the necessary strength, balance, and muscle control," says child psychologist Aaron Cooper, Ph.D., coauthor of I Just Want My Kids to Be Happy! Why You Shouldn't Say It...
Your child will be thrilled with her newfound speed. You, on the other hand, get the unique experience of being simultaneously overjoyed and freaked. Let's face it: It's unsettling to see your child zip away faster than you can follow. But do your best to put only Proud Mom on display. "Give the message that she's powerful, and it's great," Cooper says. And try to make peace with the fact that even when she follows safety rules, your kid may take a spill. "Walk over calmly. Don't come running, hysterical, because it will just frighten her," he advises. "Show her that accidents happen, you take care of them, and move on."