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I wonder how important the color of a bike should be for a 7-year-old girl? There are many good bike options, but they don’t come in the pink color that she likes.

I am trying to decide whether I should try to change her mind, or just go with whatever bike with the color that she likes.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Please be kind enough to continue the discussion there, as there is no good way to move further comments to chat once the room has been created. Thanks. – anongoodnurse May 20 '16 at 22:41
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    Just paint the bike! – rbp May 28 '16 at 13:17

14 Answers 14

135

Seems to me that the true question is, How do I teach my child to weigh the value of the color of a bike versus the quality of the bike (and perhaps price?).

As such, I think this is a great learning moment for your daughter. Either sit down in front of a computer with an appropriate web shop pulled up, or go to the bike store, and select several different options. Talk over the advantages and disadvantages of each one. If one is less expensive, for example, point out that you would then have some money left over to have a nice meal out, or buy a book, or whatnot. If one has better build quality, point out that it won't break as quickly.

Second, point out that she can accessorize the bike however she wants once the bike itself is purchased. Talk about her options for doing so - not sure I'd paint it, but certainly streamers, beads in the wheels, a new seat (seats are entirely changeable on most bikes), new pedals if the bike has replaceable pedals - all are options, either right away or once she's saved up some money to do so.

Then, ultimately, I would let her make her own decision. Get her to talk to you intelligently about it, but once she's done so, get the bike she prefers. Then, if it turns out the bike she chose isn't as good, she'll learn that she made a choice, and lives with the consequences of it - in this case, a bike that is harder to ride or doesn't go as fast or breaks more quickly.

Because ultimately, the question you asked - 'How important should the color of a bike be for a seven year old girl' - has no real answer other than what she feels.

  • 8
    Really well said. TY for this. – Jeff.Clark May 18 '16 at 0:07
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    A good answer, but it would mean sticking to your guns on both sides. When her friends get a pink bike then she might dislike the non-pink choice she made, when her pink bike falls apart, you gotta stick will "next time don't choose a cheap bike just cause it's pink". It's very possible that the lesson could take two or three bikes before she figures it out, and that's assuming she's not ok with a new bike every 6 months. Most importantly the choice must have a price. If she's using her own money, that's great... – coteyr May 18 '16 at 13:13
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    @zespri I think that's entirely the point of my answer. Get her to think about the different reasons for choosing one versus the other, then let her make her own decision. – Joe May 18 '16 at 19:37
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    A 7 yo might just say "I HATE this stupid black bike! I want PINK bike! No I DON'T WANT THE BLACK BIKE! It is ugly. Give me the pink one. I want the pink one!!!" Don't expect her to behave as if she is 30 years old. – user31264 May 19 '16 at 23:53
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    @user31264 I certainly can have an intelligent conversation about something like this with my four year old; I think suggesting a seven year old isn't capable of having an intelligent conversation about the benefits of a better quality bike versus a specific color of bike is vastly underselling the intelligence and maturity of your average seven year old. She might still stick with the pink bike - but she can have an intelligent conversation about it, particularly if you regularly treat her like her own person and have conversations like this with her. – Joe May 20 '16 at 0:34
22

Color is certainly important to a 7 year old girl. However, at that age you should be able to negotiate a compromise with her. You can just explain to her that unfortunately the bikes don't come in pink, and then show her the available colors, and let her choose one of those.

You may find it's not really such a big problem. She may be equally happy with a white bike with pink stickers, for example.

I don't think it's necessary, or even desirable, to try to go to extreme lengths to suit her exact requirements. Learning to compromise is a very important life skill. There will certainly be times in her life where she cannot get exactly what she wants, and how well she copes with this will depend a great deal on what she learns as a young child.

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    I was going to give a similar answer to this, so instead I gave you a +1. As a mum of two daughters, I learned to offer "If we can't get pink, what's another colour you like?" I'm yet to have them not choose a colour they'd live with. – Jane S May 18 '16 at 5:02
  • @JaneS You should put that quote in an answer! – GreenAsJade May 19 '16 at 6:09
  • @GreenAsJade Thanks, but it doesn't add substantially to this answer :) – Jane S May 19 '16 at 7:30
16

Very important! My daughter is a bit younger only 4.5 years old. I made a mistake and I bought her a black/blue color Specialized kids bike, thinking it should be good for my son who is 2 years younger when she outgrows it.

She hardly used it, because she had no personal connection to the bike and I could not make her use it more than a minute or two.

One day after an unsuccessful bike ride we saw a girl happily riding along with her pink Barbie bike and she loved it. She wanted to have a pink Barbie bike! We went to Kmart and bought one for her. The quality was not even close to her old bike but it had all the bells and whistles for a girl such as front pink basket for her toys and a back seat for teddy. She loved it, I did not have to push it anymore she was riding happily by herself. We also bought her a "Shopkins" scooter which was a big hit as well.

UPDATE: I'm not sure that talking over the advantages and disadvantages of different bikes actually works. For me it sounds like convincing her that your choice is better than hers until she accepts your decision. You have to pick your fights and this is NOT an important one.

Unless she already cycles some serious miles I doubt a 7 year would ride enough (1000 miles or so) to trash even the cheapest bike before she outgrows it (max 3-4 years). I cycle a lot and I would never buy my bike from a big box store, but for a little girl it's just fine.

  • 1
    Children can usually compromise, but going for black/blue may be stretching things a bit much. I can't imagine any 4.5 year old girl would be able to cope with colors like that. Most young girls would very much consider those boy colors. It's very difficult to get things that will suit both boys and girls. You'd need to go for something very neutral, or figure out some really effective way to 'bling-it-up' to young girl specifications. – user1751825 May 18 '16 at 4:40
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    I'm sure you meant well, but as a father to a young girl, I can just picture your daughters tremendous disappointment when she saw the color. Our daughter would be quite distraught in such a situation. – user1751825 May 18 '16 at 4:44
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    We needed to buy our daughter new sandals while overseas. The only ones we could get were black and red. She understood that this was the best we could do, but she was still quite distressed. She was also teased a bit at school because of the color. I ended up hand painting them pink with gold dots. She was delighted. The paint didn't last particularly long, but long enough for her to grow out of them. – user1751825 May 18 '16 at 14:21
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    This feels genuinely scary to me. How does a child end up with so strong stereotypes as early as 4-5, to the point of disliking a bike because of the colour? Is this something that a parent should attempt to prevent? – Kos May 22 '16 at 14:54
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    @Kos I don't think it's a stereotype it's hardwired. Monkeys don't have cultural bias, yet male monkeys prefer trucks and female monkeys prefer dolls. animalwise.org/2012/01/26/… – Tibidabo May 24 '16 at 10:56
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You might think about getting a used bike (I'd hate to do this to a new bike) and let her pick out a color to paint it. I'm sure your local home improvement shop could recommend a good paint (with sealer and whatever else is necessary). It could be a fun project that you could do together (maybe with a smaller paint brush for her). Sure, it may not look so great but the point is that she's happy with it and you both could share something.

If she isn't happy with that I'd just tell her "this is what's available, if you want something different we'll have to make it ourselves."

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    Maybe plasti-dip it - I've never used it myself, but from what I've heard you can do it right over the original paint and it'll peel right off if you get tired of it so there'd be no reason not to do it to a new bike. – Random832 May 18 '16 at 3:11
  • ... or stickers (decals) to make it her own – paul May 24 '16 at 5:22
8

I upvoted Joe's answer, and I see no need to repeat it. Just a couple of notes I'd add:

Don't belittle her concern about the color. Such things can be very important to people in general and to little girls in particular. When we bought a new house a few years ago it was very important to my then-16-year-old daughter that her room be repainted purple. And hey, as a 50+ year-old man, I thought the lime green bathroom looked awful and I painted that tan.

I've heard parents berate their children that they're being stupid for getting all concerned about the color or some other esthetic detail, and I think that's just mean. What IS reasonable is, as Joe and others have said, to point out the problem to her: You said you wanted a bike that was pink, but you also said you wanted a basket (or whatever other concerns ares), and look, we just can't find a bike that's pink AND that has a basket. Which is more important to you? You're going to have to decide. (At that point if she screams and throws a tantrum and demands you find her a bike with both, that's a different sort of issue.)

I can see a problem if it's a choice between something esthetic like color and something like quality of construction. Does your 7 yo understand the significance of different welding techniques, or even of metal versus plastic parts? Frankly, that's often a challenge for adults, trying to judge things like quality of construction versus esthetics and fancy features.

If you're prepared to buy a bike of another color and paint it, that's certainly a solution. Get her involved in painting it and it could become a father/daughter or mother/daughter project. That's the sort of activity kids will remember many years later. (I have pleasant memories to this day of my father teaching me basic auto maintenance tasks when I got my first car. Okay, I was a lot older than 7, but I think those were some of our best "bonding" times.) But painting a bike right is a fair amount of work, not the sort of thing you're going to do in 15 minutes.

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    I'm glad you made that point about the bathroom. After having been subjected to watching a great number of DIY programmes over the years, it's quite obvious that colour does matter. I've seen fully grown adults go ballistic just because their house render is a single hue different from what they wanted. If adults are allowed to get protective over the colours of their cars and houses, a child wanting a certain bike colour is by no means unreasonable. I dare say the child might actually be more reasonable about the compromise than some DIY enthusiasts I've seen. – Pharap May 20 '16 at 17:26
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Take her with you to the hardware store to buy some nice pink paint. Let her pick out the color. Paint it with her with you probably doing most of the work. Use tape/newspaper to prevent the chrome parts or wheels from getting paint on them. Give her the option for pen stripes or other effects by adding a second coat of paint after it dries. It's something she'll always remember.

  • Make sure to use an appropriate primer. – Jasper May 21 '16 at 21:13
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    You don't need primer. You don't strip the old paint off. You paint the new paint right over the top of the old paint. If the old color bleeds through, paint a second coat. Taking the old paint off is too much work. – Russell Hankins May 22 '16 at 3:01
  • spray.bike/products has several pinks. – armb May 24 '16 at 9:34
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    If you do go this route, I'd recommend asking bicycles.stackexchange.com how to do it properly. – armb May 24 '16 at 9:35
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I happen to have a 7-year old girl who's getting a bike for her birthday. We had a lot of medical expenses the last couple of months and we decided that instead of NOT getting her a bike, we would purchase a used one. We've been going over options and we spotted a bike in very good condition. Only problem: it has a Spiderman motif. I explained the situation to my daughter who answered "I don't care, as long as I get a bike to ride I don't care if it has Spiderman on it. I want to ride it, not look at it. "

Instead of trying to convince the OP's little gir, just explain to her that the nicest bikes come only in x, y, z color. But that you'll buy a pink basket and streamers /stickers/etc. if she likes.

We found a fixer-upper today for €15 vs €189 new bike - my daughter spent the afternoon soaping it up, shining it and my husband hooking up a hot-pink basket in front of the handlebars.

These memories alone of the whole family coming together to find and fix-up her "new" bike are priceless.

Ciao,

L

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    I think what you describe is rare, but it also makes me very happy that your daughter was able to be flexible enough to accommodate you during your financial challenges. Actually, it sounds like it didn't matter to her, and it was a great coincidence for your family that her apathy (just regarding color) matched your current financial situation. What's even more fortunate is that you wound up creating some beautiful memories with your family. I will say that my personal experiences are close to the opposite of yours, but that actually makes me even happier for you that it worked out. :-) – RockPaperLizard May 22 '16 at 10:19
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Why not buy her a good bike so that you get peace of mind that it won't fall apart and help her customize her bike to her color/design preferences?

That way, you win by getting a her decent bike and not having to change her mind, and she wins by getting her color choice. It can also be a bonding moment for the both of you by working on the customization together and she learns that you don't have to settle for what someone else is willing to sell (that she can create/make things instead of just being a consumer). She'll also have a much deeper appreciation/connection with something she made/worked on.

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I think there are a couple of factors here. Obviously you want to be able to get your daughter the thing that she wants, that is perfectly natural. However it will certainly do here no harm at all to get a sense that it is not guaranteed that you will get exactly what you want without some difficulty.

Here I think the key thing is to get her involved in the whole process and letting her make some of the decision may make the whole process more interesting for her of course being aware that at this age she may not really understand exactly what is is that she really wants so some patience on your part may be required.

If you make it a thing for the two of you to choose a bike together you may find you get more out of it than if you just hand it over as a present

1
  1. Don't expect her to explain intelligently why does she want a pink bike. At the age of 7, she knows she strongly wants a pink bike, but she is not psychologically competent enough to understand why. Note that we adults are also often unable to explain why we like/dislike something.

  2. There are several possible reasons why she wants a pink bike. Most of them are important.

    • The pink bike may associate with girls. Then having the pink bike is part of establishing her gender identity. Would you, as a boy, like to wear girl's clothes?
    • When a child wants X, and you refuse, instead suggesting Y, he wants X more, and hates Y. It is not because the child is stupid. It is because, for a child, it is very important to make her own decisions. It is more important that the decision will be her own than that the decision will be right, because a child needs to learn on her mistakes. For us adults it is also important to make our own decisions, but we usually can do it.
    • Peer pressure. She might be bullied by her peers for using a wrongly colored bike. There are all kinds of arbitrary rules among children (or among adults, for that matter).
    • Collective wisdom. She knows from her peers that pink is cool.
  3. You might suggest her another color, or explain the options, but most chances she will still choose a pink bike. Don't force your own choice, and don't demand her to explain her reasons. If she will choose her own bike, she will love it. If you will buy her a bike she doesn't want, she may hate it.

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    I disagree about a 7 year old not being 'psychologically competent' enough to understand why they want a pink bike. "I like pink" is all the reason she needs. Ask people why they chose a particular colour of car and a good chunk of them will answer "because I like that colour". Maybe a few will talk about dirt and scratches, but usually it's down to simply liking said colour. Incidentally when I was younger my peers told me light purple was a girly colour, but it didn't stop me asking to have light purple on some of my bedroom walls (and darker purple on the others, for contrast). – Pharap May 20 '16 at 17:32
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How important should it be? I have the strong opinion that it shouldn't be at all — in an ideal world. But, given that you have an actual daughter with an actual self, rather than a theoretical one, it is likely to be very very important, and you should treat it with seriousness and respect.

Human beings have a strong need for categorization. It's how we understand the world — and this includes how we understand ourselves. In our society, one of the big categories is gender identity. We bombard our children with this incessantly, from overt things like separate girls' and boys' aisles in toy stores to unthinking ones like having girls and boys line up separately in school to go to recess. So, it's natural that as individual identity is forming, children latch strongly to the signifiers of gender.

I strongly recommend reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein for an insightful look into the child development and cultural factors behind this. She has a great story about a preschool who wore hair barrettes to school, and was teased as "being a girl". When he pulls down his pants to demonstrate that he is not, the classmate laughs: "Everyone has a penis. Only girls wear barrettes!"

All of this isn't inherently bad. But, it can become very bad when it limits options — in this case, where the only pink bikes are inferior (or at least inferior in the same price range). That really puts you in a bind — and your daughter too.

At seven, you daughter is probably old enough to grasp the injustice of this, at least in a basic way. And, it's not like this situation is going to just go away as she gets older. I'd suggest explaining it — that the pink options are really restricted, and that it's not fair, and laying out some other options for decoration — but ultimately let her make the decision. Maybe she'll be perfectly happy with it; maybe she'll grow to realize that she could have prioritized things differently and gotten a better bike.

And the good thing is that she'll probably grow and not have this one for very long, anyway. Perhaps next time, she'll choose differently (in either direction!) as her needs and understanding grow and change.

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I started posting this as a comment and it became to long. Joe's answer is awesome, for the record. You should read it in conjunction with this one.

At 7 years old, color is important. You need to be prepared for the fact that no "parent logic" is gonna override the "but I want pink, Lizzy has pink and I want pink too". That said, this is an important opportunity for a lesson, or several lessons.

First, IMO, you can teach cost v.s. quality v.s. lifespan. For example, I took a look at my local bike shop and there were basically 2 options. $700 for a bike the right size for a seven year old girl. This bike would work for a couple of years and have to be replaced because of size. Or around $1,600. The more expensive bike would last them into their late teens. It's adjustable enough to keep with their growth long enough that the next bike they will buy should be as an adult (or close to it). Neither of these options come in pink however. Of course you can always go to Target or the like and shop around $200, but those bikes may or may not make it a year. They may have them in pink. Now this is a trick lesson to try to impart. Specially if it's their first bike, or they are not using their own money. You can try to point out all the benefits of the more expensive "last forever" bike, but it's going to be boring, and not really compete with pink. Rather you can impart this lesson or not is going to depend on the child, and why they want a bike. If your thinking family biking runs, and doing it as a hobby, then push for the more expensive bike. If they want a bike because everyone else has one, and she's not really an outdoor person, or your not an outdoor family, then you can use the expensive bike as a "too much for the goals, more isn't always better" lesson.

Next, you can teach "future proofing" purchases. IMO this is an important lesson to teach when ever you can. At 7 not much is gonna last more then a few months. A bike is going to last a long time. So you can use it to teach "What you like today, you may not like tomorrow" and the value of making choices that you can change later. Use examples like kids cartoons that they out grew. Or stuffed toys that they don't find "cool" any more. This works especially well with things they liked, but don't like cause "it's for babies". Show them that a neutral color with pink trimmings, baskets, tassels, handle bars, tires, whatever means they if they decide they don't like pink they can change it later for much less then the cost of a new bike.

Third, teach proper bike safety. There is a lot to owning a bike, and a lot of this is going to depend on circumstance and goals. But bike safety is important. The proper way to ride in the road, or on a shared path. Rather to be on the sidewalks or bike lane. What side of the road to ride on. Rather or not to ride on the sidewalk. What are good areas and bad areas to ride in. Again this is very dependent on where you are. I live in a city, and there is a decent amount of support for biking. That said, there's no way I would encourage my 7 year old to ride in the bike lane. I would teach them to ride at one of the bike trails, to walk the bike when crossing the street, not to ride on the sidewalk, and how to ride in the streets around the house. I would also set some boundaries about where they could ride alone. But in among all theses are discussions about laws, lights, reflectors, clothing colors, helmets, and the like. Perhaps even how pink can't be a color for some of those.

In short, a bike is a big purchase. Color is going to be important, but you should, IMO, use this purchase as a lesson on how color should not be "the most important" thing, and start discussions about how boring things are important too. At 7 there are not a lot of opportunities for this, might as well use them when you can. In the end be prepared, either way, for the 7 year old to act as a 7 year old. You may have to move your foot in a downward direction, or accept that pink is what she wants and work around it. In either case, make sure you add your needs (like safety and reliability, re-uasability, and cost) over the top while still remembering it's her bike, and she's the one that has to ride it.

  • Does an LBS really sell $700 and $1600 bikes, for 7-year olds? How is it that @the more expensive bike" can "last them into their late teens", given that she can be expected to grow in weight and height? – ChrisW May 24 '16 at 12:58
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When I was 10, my mom bought me a bike second hand. It was purple. A BMX trick bike that was a light purple color (solid, no art or stickers, damn near pink). It had pegs in the front and the back, no hand brakes, only petal brakes. The front handles would free spin, meaning that because it had no hand breaks, you could potentially do tricks in the air. I had that bike for years. Loved the bike, but I hated the color. I got lucky. Most of my friends were poor like we were, so having a bike at all but especially a bike like mine that was capable of riding 3 people (on the pegs), was seen as a good thing.

If you and your daughter are in a circumstance were you can choose the color, there is no really good reason to force her into something she doesn't like. My daughters love dresses and pink things. I make sure they aren't overly saturated with princess garbage because I want them to know that liking "boy" stuff is okay. Then I tell them about my pink bike. They are (as of this writing) 9 and the twins are 7. So, they laughed at my pinkish purple bike, but eventually they got it. We had the grandparents buy them some green machines, and they each picked a different color.

Use your judgement and focus on who you want your girls to be as adults. If they want something pink or black and you are not comfortable with their choice, remember she is 7 and you being uncomfortable with her choice is based on your own bias, not hers. If you want to change her mind, shine a light on it for her, but let her come to her own conclusions. If you force it, at best you create resentment, and at worst you can erode her self confidence at making her own choices. If she picks a bike and her friends pick on her, tell her about this guy you knew that had a pink bike. She probably won't care, but at least you shined a light on it. When she is older, hopefully she will realize that people who make fun of others do so because they have their own shame about it. My friends had no shame about my girl colored bike, because we were all poor and you tend to not care so much about what you have but rather that you have it at all.

It is all about perspective. Give her as much as you can, and see what she does with it.

-2

I wonder how important the color of a bike should be for a 7-year-old girl?

Very important. To a 7-year-old girl, the most important attribute for a bike is often the color.

There are many good bike options, but they don’t come in the pink color that she likes.

Good to you or good to her?

She wants pink. That's what's good to her. Don't try to fit her into your mindset. Fit yourself into her mindset.

It's a bike. She wants pink. They make pink bikes. Get her one.

I am trying to decide whether I should try to change her mind, or just go with whatever bike with the color that she likes.

Why would you want to change her mind? So she can want what you value? It's fine if you want to explain your values to her, as long as you are willing to respect what she values.

Remember, this is her bike, not yours.

Keep in mind, she's already clearly and effectively communicated with you what she values:
She values pink.

In order to make it extra special for her, consider putting a big, beautiful pink bow on it and attaching some sparkly pink streamers to the handlebars like the ones below. To a 7 year old girl who loves pink, there is no such thing as too much pink.

Sparkly pink streamers
Image Source: Amazon.com

  • 1
    There are also "good" characteristics that extremely boring for a child but important for a parent (quality of construction, safety features, reliability) -- it's not necessary to ignore all of those aspects of a bike just to meet an aesthetic desire. I'd even argue it's unwise to do so, as it isn't really teaching about sensible shopping choices. – Acire May 22 '16 at 14:37
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    @Erica Not everything has to be a lesson. It's definitely damaging to a child when a parent tries to make everything into one. Plenty of quality bicycles come in pink, especially ones that fit a 7 year old girl. – RockPaperLizard May 23 '16 at 1:10
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    I agree. I feel that at this point in human development fewer things should be lessons in fear and scarcity and more things should be fun. How long with the bike fit her anyway? 6 months? What is the big deal? – user17408 May 23 '16 at 2:06
  • Does the answer stay the same if the child decides she values the most expensive bike, rather than the most pink bike? It simply seems strange to me that only one party's values -- the child's -- are relevant to the decision. – Acire May 23 '16 at 3:36
  • @Erica You can post that question so people can answer it. But that's not this question posed here. Very briefly, unlike cost, bicycle color does not impact the parents' ability to provide. – RockPaperLizard May 23 '16 at 4:36

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