Mar 5, 2009

How do you teach a child to ride a bike?

Alex wants to learn how to ride a bicycle. It makes sense, since he's had a blast motoring around on his tricycle. Marc never learned how to ride a bike, but I rode one for much of my childhood. We both agree that if Alex wants to ride a bike, he should be able to.

We bought a 12-inch bicycle with training wheels.

And then Marc tells me that since I'm the only one who knows how to ride a bike, it's my job to teach Alex.

Say what?!

The actual teaching part isn't so daunting. The boy's got training wheels, after all. And he's reasonably coordinated, with a decent sense of balance.

But how do I keep up with him???

It's not as if I am going to get a bike of my own. I haven't ridden one in over 20 years and even though you're not supposed to forget how to ride a bike . . . I'm pretty sure I've forgotten. Thoroughly.

Any suggestions?


Joe said...

I read a while ago that since rolling with balance is the most intimidating part, you can take off the pedals (they unscrews from the crank arms) and the child can learn to coast and balance using their feet to stop and start.

It worked with one of my kids.

Lady Christie said...

I always just let my kids ride in front of me and I walked behind, the rule was they couldn't get to far in front of me so I didn't have to run to far if they fell. When they got a good distance I would yell to them to stop for a minute until I closed the distance between us.

Anonymous said...

One of my sons just took off as fast as I could get the training wheels off (literally had not put the tools down on the floor to run behind him and he was off). My other son is a lot more fearful and hasn't learned yet. Check out Its a video you download. It explains that you have to learn to turn into a fall to prevent it from happening. Sounds logical, but someone with fears isn't always thinking logically so I haven't gotten it to work yet.

Aaron said...

My wife works at an LBS, and as such has helped lots of little ones get started. As such, here is the standard advice.

Get rid of the training wheels. Once that's done, then get the pedals taken off too.

This will let your kid just push themselves push like they are on a sit on scooter & will allow them to build confidence and muscle memory faster that any other option. Once he gets going, he can just hold up his feet and coast along (this build the balance). If he gets wobbly, it's super easy to just put feet down to help out (this builds confidence). Once he feels comfortable with the coasting aspect & has gotten good at it, you can put the pedals back on.

Then (since he knows how to balance) all he'll have to learn is how to pedal. Good luck!

Denise Mall said...

I agree with all those saying to lose the pedals and the training wheels - you'll be surprised how fast you are putting those pedals back on. Kids learn so fast.

I would also recommend having husband around while you teach - my DH gave a lot of manly cheers that helped the boys - the youngest was afraid. Like high-fives if he scraped his knee and weird man stuff like that. Totally, eliminated tears and mommy being overbearing.

Also - get a bike. I have the best memories of evening bike rides with the whole family. We had a blast and it kept everyone away from the bube tube.

Christy said...

I agree with losing the training wheels. I never had even thought about taking off the pedals.
So far we have tought 4 kids how to ride a bike and the ones that caught on quicker all started out on a small scooter. The scooter helped them with their balance, once they did that riding the bike seemed to come much easier for them.

Carol M said...

You should definitely get a bike too! My kids are 5 and 9 and biking together is a great activity. Plus, they tell me I'm a "cool mom biker," because none of the other moms in my neighborhood ride. :)

Anonymous said...

I taught my four to ride in the yard of our home. The yard had a nice gentle downward slope that allowed them to learn to roll with balance. If they happened to fall, their fall was cushioned by the grass. They all picked it up quickly.

Anonymous said...

there's actually handles you can get that attach to the back tires. You hold the handle to help them learn balance and walk behind as they ride. Eventually they will be able to balance on their own and you can take the handle off. Here's an example although I've also seen a cool one that is a bit taller with two handles:

Anonymous said...

We didn't use training wheels growing up, but my father pushed us for a while, then let go while we didn't pedal.

I fell the first time and was so upset that he let me fall I refused to learn. (I was stubborn at 5) Later I tried it on my own, and fell a few times, but figured it out.

Chief Family Officer said...

Thanks, everyone! We can't finish assembling the bike b/c there's a part missing but I am definitely going to use your suggestions!