Motivation is the only contributor to cycling achievement that is thoroughly within riders' control. They can't control their genes, but they can do everything in their power to fully realize whatever genetic capabilities their parents gave them. And research has shown that the single greatest predictor of success is the amount of time athletes put into their sport. Those who are most motivated will devote the most time to training, which will lead to the greatest success. Of course, those with the best genes and are also highly motivated will have the most success.
So the $64,000 question for parents is: "How do I motivate my cyclist-child?" Motivation is the most difficult psychological contributor to success because you can't give your children motivation. Rather, they have to find it within themselves, which means their finding a reason that they want to get on their bike and do the hard work necessary to achieve their goals.
If your children aren't motivated to be champions, they may have other reasons they ride. For example, they like the camaraderie of being part of a team, they enjoy being outdoors, or they like being really fit. If they have lost their motivation to get on their bike at all, you might want to explore what or whom (often a parent) is squashing their motivation. Or, despite your wishes to the contrary, maybe cycling just isn't for them and they should find something else to do.
Nonetheless, let me offer a few suggestions that can bolster young cyclists' motivation. The easiest way to answer the question of how you can motivate your cyclist-child is for them to have a great passion for the sport. Cyclists who love to train and compete will do whatever it takes because they just love being out there.
Setting, working toward, and achieving goals are immensely satisfying as well, so you can also help them set realistic, yet challenging goals they can strive toward. Having your kids in a junior cycling program with an inspiring coach and other motivated riders creates an environment that fosters motivation; it's hard to not be motivated when they're surrounded by other driven riders.
You also need to make sure that it's fun. Given that the odds are very long that your children will become great cyclists, there's no other reason for them to be doing it. Finally, get out of their way! An absolute motivation killer is for you to get overly invested in your child's cycling and take ownership away from them. If you care more about their riding than they do, you guarantee that they will not be motivated, be successful, or enjoy the sport.
This is the other $64,000 question: "How do I best support my cyclist-child?" The answer starts with everyone involved understanding what their jobs are. It's the cyclist's job to work hard, pay attention to their coaches, and take full advantage of the opportunities they are given. It's the coaches' job to prepare them physically, technically, and mentally to achieve their goals and have fun.
It's your job to provide the opportunities for your children (e.g., coaching, camps, equipment), pay the bills (which can be incredibly high), get them where they need to be on time, pat them on the back when they do well, console them when they do poorly, and support the coaches so they can do their jobs.
If everyone does their job and their job alone, then your young rider will have a good time and usually perform to the best of their ability. If someone either doesn't do their job or tries to do another job, then things go south quickly.
Let me conclude with some thoughts about your goals in having your children participate in the sport of cycling. If your objective is to turn them into champions, the odds are that you're wasting your money and time and your children's happiness. Cycling is metaphorically littered with the scarred psyches of children whose parents tried and failed to do what Earl Woods and Richard Williams succeeded at doing in golf and tennis, respectively.
Your goals as parents are for your children to have fun, learn life skills to succeed later in life, value health and fitness, and develop a love of riding their bike. If by some freak chance you give them world-class cycling genes, they love the sport enough to work incredibly hard, and they get the right kind of support from you, and they become professional cyclists, then that's just icing on the cake.Search for a cycling event.