Learning to Ride a Bike
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Learning to Ride a Bike
I would like to take the training wheels off my daughter's bike
(she's 6)and she also thinks she is ready but, I would like a
plan. Do I hold the bike from behind or do I hold her? What if
she falls and gets hurt and doesn't want to keep trying...I
would appreciate any advice or tips.
ready to roll
For this message and the following one on training wheels:
I taught my neighbor's son to ride without training wheels. I
very lightly held on to the back of the seat and let go when he
started pedaling fast. He was 6 and learned in about 15
His parents had taken off and put back on the training wheels
several times but he seemed to have no confidence in their
ability to teach/help him nor did he want his parents see him in
a potential moment of weakness.
My advice is to have an adult friend or relative that your child
likes and trusts to take your child and bike to a playground or
path to practice.
I applaud you trying to start early with your daughter. The older she
harder it will be for you to help her learn because she'll be heavier
(harder to help
balance or catch) and she'll ride faster (which makes running to keep
up that much
Here's what worked for me. Take off the training wheels. Find a
unobstructed section of pavement that requires absolutely no steering.
paths and sidewalks won't do. I used the large paved playyard of Marin
Albany (which is now torn up, unfortunately). Hopefully you can find
similar, like an empty parking lot or basketball court. Longfellow
Sacramento would probably work well.
Tell your child not to think about steering or braking yet; you'll stop
her if she's
about to hit something. All she needs to do is concentrate on
balancing. If her
balance is really shaky, or she's overly nervous, you might need to
start with one of
your hands on the handlebar and one on the back of her seat. Help her
with a small push and run alongside. As soon as you think she's
capable, try to get
her going with just one hand placed firmly in her lower back, right
next to the seat.
Keep your other hand near the handlebars, ready to grab before a fall,
or to stop her
when she gets to the edge of the pavement (or other obstacle). Tell
remember to always pedal. The words ''Keep pedaling!'' should become
mantra. Once she stops pedaling, she's likely to start losing her
balance and get
wobbly. ; It make take a few sessions like this to get the balancing
Once her balance is steady, have her try the steering and braking part.
part about braking for my daughter was remembering to put her foot down
she stopped so she wouldn't fall over (she was used to training wheels
up). Once she had steering and braking down the other big hurdle was
started all by herself - getting a pedal up in the ''10:00'' position
before pushing off,
The most important thing is to be ready to break any painful falls,
have first aid
handy, and of course, have some rewarding snacks or drinks. Good luck!
Getting rid of my daughter's training wheels was a
wonderful project and I would be happy to share it here in
the hope it helps you. My daughter was not yet 5, and
wanted her training wheels off. I took her to a flat
playground (Thousand Oaks in Berkeley) and held her,
while she pedaled. You could try holding the bike, but I
found that I would need to lean over too much, and it
seemed to make her feel more secure to be held. I held her
on both sides of her rib cage, under her arms, which is what
felt most solid. Once she seemed to have balance, I let go
of my grip a bit. I found that it helped her most, for meto
hold her strongly, and to assure her I had a good hold of her
and that she wouldn't fall. Once she gained confidence in
the ''being held'' and riding, I let go a little bit gradually. At
the end of that first session, she was able to go by herself
several times. I stayed close enough that I could catch her
when she started to wobble. It was a bit tiring, and I
stopped before I overdid it on my back. Perhaps better to do
several shorter ''training sessions''. Point out each
improvement, and tell her when she is doing it alone.
Come with a big dose of confidence ''You Can Do This''.
Also, say that at times when learning something new, she
may fall. Make sure she has long pants and long sleeves to
protect the skin a bit on those first tries. I found that the
second session was when my daughter really took off, and
on the third she could start and stop on her own. It was a bit
nerve-wracking for me, but so very empowering for her. I
hope you have a great experience!
Mom of bike riding girl
After having similiar difficulty with our daughter balancing
after I let go of the bike seat. I tried lowering the seat until
our daughter's feet could drop off the pedals and touch and
balance the bike herself. As soon as I did this she took off.
If she started to loose her balance she would skim her shoes and
balance that way. Within a minute she was confident enough to
ride without taking her feet off the pedals, but she knew she
could when she needed to. When she was more skillful with her
riding I raised the seat back up adjusting for her leg length and
a small bend at the knee.
I can tell you what worked well for my son: find a gentle,
grassy slope (important that it is not too steep) and start your
daughter at the top of it. You stand to the side, one hand on the
back of the bike seat, one on the handlebar in front of your
daughter's hand. She starts pedalling down the slope and you run
along side, gradually letting your grip soften until you let go,
but keeping your hands close to where they were so you can reach
out and grab the bike if it starts to tip over. Repeat
as many times as necessary. Depending on what kind of shape you
are in you may get quite out of breath, but it should work. You
can stop, or at least soften, any falls. If she's ready she will
soon be able to find her balance and be off.
What not to do: do not just push your daughter on the bike down
the hill and let her crash on her own until she gets it. This is
what my father did for me. It worked for my sister, but I must
have a lower pain threshold because it did not work at all for
me. I don't think I learned to ride a bike until I was 8 or 9.
For the mother of the 8 year old who wants her daughter to start
riding: one thing that might help is that this process with the
gentle, grassy slope, etc. can work so well that she can be
riding without those training wheels within an hour. And once she
gets it, she'll be off and no stopping her.
First, find a flat area with wide open spaces, such as a
playground, without too many people or obstructions (not a bike
path). 100 Oaks, MLK Middle School, and Oceanview Elementary
have worked for me. You should hold the bike, not the child.
I would usually hold the back of the seat with one hand and the
end of the handlebar with the other. You will need to run with
the bike while she picks up speed. Once she has reached
cruising speed, you should be able to tell, by easing up on
your grip, whether or not she is self balancing. If she's not
balancing, or can't reach an adequate speed, she's probably not
ready (tho it's probably still good practice to have her ride
w/o training wheels while you hold her). If she seems to be
balancing, you can let go for a few seconds, but keep running
with her and be prepared to grab her bike if she begins
falling. Once a child realizes that they are riding on their
own, my experience has been that they are so excited by this
they will tolerate a few falls.
two for two
Here's what we did: I took off the training wheels, and then I
also took off the pedals. My son then had the equivalent of a
scooter, where he could push himself along for short spurts (on
level, or slightly downshill slopes), and if he tipped to either
side, he could push gently off the ground with either foot to
regain his equilibrium. If the pedals were still on the bike,
they would be banging into his shins (ouch). After an afternoon
of this, he was ready to have the pedals put back on.
I also see that they sell this long-armed handle that grabs onto
the seat, or seat post, of the bike, so you can run behind the
bike without having to bend over too much. Wish I had one, when
I was training our older son There is nothing like the look of
joy on your child's face, when they master the freedom and fun
For teaching our son to ride a bike, we found the easiest way
for him to get used to the bicycle-riding ''feel'' was riding
a ''Trail-a-bike'' tandem extension that fit on the back of our
grown-up bike. He was able to get the feeling of the balance
required without training wheels in a safe environment. When he
went back to trying his own bicycle without training wheels, he
picked it up in no time.
I expect you could try one out, borrowing or renting from a
bicycle store to see if it seems to work with your child.
I need advice on helping my 8-year old to overcome her fear of
learning to ride a bike. She nearly had it 3 summers ago, with
training wheels off. Then the bike broke and by the time I had
it fixed, she wouldn't get on it again. I've tried to persuade
her to try again every summer since then and have offered to put
the training wheels back on, but she's refused, since she knows
most kids her age don't need training wheels. I believe she
wants to learn, and is embarrassed that she can't. I should add
that she is otherwise very active, athletic and well-coordinated.
This is one of those things I feel is my job as a parent to
teach her, and I've failed. Any suggestions?
I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 11. Yes, I was
embarrassed that a big kid like me didn't know how to ride a
bike and scared of falling off.
What worked for me was a combination of the following: a
relatively private (so none of my classmates could see me),
slightly sloping but flat area (with an uphill at the end so I
didn't worry about accelerating out of control), and using my
little sister's bike without training wheels. In the bike
store they always put me in a bike so big that I couldn't reach
the ground with my feet, which was scary. On my little
sister's bike, I could straddle the seat with my feet on the
ground, so I knew that if I lost my balance, all I had to do
was put my foot down. Training wheels were useless at my age
because I already knew how to pedal; riding a bike with
training wheels didn't address the fundamental problem. They
didn't teach me how to balance, and they made me look like an
idiot, being such a big girl.
One day I just took my sister's bike out and decided to learn,
starting by sitting on the seat and letting the gentle slope
carry me along. Within less than an hour I got the hang of
it. By the next day I was riding my own big bike, and after
that it was hard to get me off my bike!
So you might try a smaller bike in a private spot. A very
gentle slope helps too, if there's a safe area at the end.
That way you can start by just taking your feet an inch off the
ground and you'll start rolling.
This is a foolproof, 1 day, hands off method and it will save
1 small bike, seat adjusted so the child can put both feet
firmly on the ground on either side (tip toes does not work).
1 motivated child.
1 pair of bike gloves.
Open area with smooth asphalt/cement/hard dirt. (Open in all
directions.) With a slight - very slight- incline. I use LeConte
playground usually. King has too much of an incline. Rosa Parks
is on the small side. The idea is for them to be able to go in
any direction for a while and not have to worry too much about
steering around obstacles.
Sit the child on the bike and instruct him/her to push herself
with both feet, (as if there were no pedals like they ride the
push toys), down the incline (which is only intended to keep
them going not to gather speed).
They are to keep their feet off the pedals and close to the
ground. They can hold their legs slightly out just above the
ground. Their feet are there to catch them and if they have to
put one down they can use it to push. Look ahead not down.
This helps them get the balance concept without the interference
of the pedaling (which challenges the balance). They don't fall
either. I have taught 5 children this way. Three of my own, a
friends and a grandchild. The latest one was three weeks ago (4
years old - he insisted). The oldest child was 8 and embarrased
not to be riding. It is easier with the older ones because they
understand the explanation. I had to show the little one on my
They go down one or two times and you can see when it clicks.
Every single one has suddenly put their feet on the pedals and
started pedaling when they got it.
The 8 year old crashed into the only post in the whole area
after she started pedaling and didn't want to do it again so we
took her back to the previous, and succesful stage without
pedaling and she was fine halfway down.
IMPORTANT! Make sure the incline is slight or they will gather
too much speed, which is scary, and can fall. Make sure that the
incline flattens out well before there is an obstacle.
Best of luck.
Granny on wheels
Here are some things I learned teaching my 2 kids, (and several
in the neighborhood) how to ride a bike: run along next to them
with your hand firmly grasping the back of the seat. Try to get
a head of steam up which makes balancing easier, though it
usually freaks the new rider out a bit. You may have to also
lightly grip the near end of the handlebar to help keep them
upright, but DO NOT hold onto the rider- just the bike; it helps
to experience the feeling of the bike being upright and balanced
and not you holding them up. (The downside to training wheels is
that the new rider gets used to relying on them instead of
learning how to balance the bike, so it makes for a greater
barrier to overcome when the trainers come off).
The other technique that I've found very helpful is to find a
large, paved open space with a very gentle decline, (the paved
play area behind MLK Middle School is ideal). Position the bike
just a little up the hill and encourage the rider to pick up
his/her feet and just coast, heading in a straight line down the
hill. (The fact that there's no road to run off of and nothing
to crash into is a big psychological plus). This builds
confidence really quickly because they don't have to pedal and
have the knowledge that they can always put their feet down to
keep themselves from falling over. (I should add that it's
helpful if the bike has a hand brake if one's feet aren't on the
pedals). As they gain in confidence, you can position them a
little higher up the hill each time. With increased speed comes
easier balance, and then it's just a matter of having the
confidence to put their feet on the pedals and start riding.
Once they get the feel of being balanced on the bike the rest
comes easily. Good luck!
I am interested in advice from anyone who has dealt with this situation
before. Our son who recently turned eight, adamantly refuses to get on
his bike and learn to ride it. He used to enjoy riding it when he was
younger, but when his dad took the training wheels off of it for him to try
without them - everything changed. He got on the bike and rode it up
the street (without the wheels) but then seemed to feel insecure and got
off and has never wanted to get on again. We have put the training
wheels back on and he still won't get on it. We tried a few times to
encourage him to try it again, and when that met with stubborn
resistance we decided to just let it go. It has been many months now,
and he still doesn't want to get on the bike. He even said it was okay to
get rid of it. The only conclusion I can come to is that he was scared
without the training wheels, and now can't conquer that fear to try it
again. It saddens me to see his friends having fun riding their bikes and
him not joining in. He has always been somewhat timid and risk averse
and had a similar reaction to swimming lessons. He still doesn't know
how to swim, and that is another area that concerns me. I feel that if he
could just get past his inner anxiety, he would really enjoy these
activities. Does anyone have any advice for me to help him overcome
his anxiety and resistance?
My son was similar-he loved riding with training wheels, but
then became scared, and wouldn't ride a bike. Now he is 9 1/2,
and suddenly loves riding. So I would suggest you give your son
time-some kids take a lot longer and are more cautious, but I
bet he will do it when he is ready. I think there is this
expectation of what kids are supposed to do at certain ages, but
some of them don't fit the mold.
Sounds to me that, like my daughter, your son may have a
vestibular problem, a balance issue, an inner ear issue tied
directly to the neurological system that causes his un-sured-
ness and therefore anxiety of non-training wheel riding...it may
be something to consider...does he get car sick at all? Averse
to roller-coaster or the like rides now that he is a bit older
and can discern when he does not feel right about something?
If so, the HANDLE program does address and remediate these
vestibular, and neurological developmental roadblocks, as short-
term, non-drug and movement oriented.
www.HANDLE.org and Sindy Wilkinson, M.A., Lafayette, local
Daughter can now read in a car!
My daughter (6)is on the careful side and I appreciate it and
respond to it accordingly. She just learned to ride her bike
without training wheels. It is a process that takes several
days. The first day we had to send her dad back into the
house. He may not be the only man out there who thinks that he
will teach his child and that it shouldn't take longer than 10
minutes or an hour if the child would only listen. (She almost
had a tantrum trying to deal with all at once). It doesn't work
that way for careful and sensitive children. They want to learn
at their their own pace and as they struggle they cannot listen
and follow instructions for a while - it's too overwhelming. I
started listening to her and realized that what she needed was
an assistant, not a teacher. I told her that I would be her
horse and she can give me orders as she pleases (hold on - let
go). Then we practiced in an alley way for over an hour. (Yes,
my left arm muscles were sore for the next 2 days). At first I
had to hold on to her back and one side of the steering wheel,
then only the steering wheel. The next day she drove half the
alley way by herself, the third day she drove the whole alley
way by herself. Then daddy was allowed back for real training
(not just showing off her accomplishments). Now she was
competent enough to listen to instructions. He taught her how
to get on and get moving by herself without adult help. Last
weekend he took her to the Berkeley Marina to practice in
public and to do turns/curves. She is very motivated and he
proudly calls her a cyclist. My advice is to invest half an
hour per day for 5 consecutive days and let your child be in
charge. Last year I taught her how to swim in deep water
applying the same principle. She never attended a swimming
class in her life. Practice the movements on land and in the
tub, get your face under water in the tub, cross half the pool
with my hand supporting her under the belly, the whole pool
with supporting her belly, two strokes by herself from me to
the ladder, increase to crossing half the pool from mom to
ladder, cross the whole pool length with a mommy stop in the
middle, cross the whole pool without stop in the middle. Put
your face under water in the pool while holding on to the
ladder. Jump from the pool rim into mommy's arms (not exactly,
but you'll catch the child right after it hits the water,
increase the distance, so it has to swim two strokes towards
you after the jump. Increase the distance to half the pool
length when the child realizes that it automatically starts
swimming after going under. Before you know it, your child will
jump in and swim on its own while you get to do your own
swimming. That process took us about 7-10 days of going in the
pool daily for about 20 minutes. Remember that your child
needs to agree on any progress you're trying to achieve. Put
your child in charge of its advancement and just follow the
steps. I come to think this is all about trust, being there for
each other - unhurried and devoted - and not violating that
trust in the child's eye by pushing it to advance. I am working
fulltime, but finding that time now that the days are longer is
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