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Off With the Training Wheels

Riding bicycles is just a regular kid activity that all kids should do, right?

After all, bicycles are just one of those things that promotes independence. Learn to ride and the kids can bike to friends houses in the neighborhood, and to the park, and to the library. Sure, they can walk there, but biking is faster.

So, like all our friends, we bought our boys bikes with training wheels. As expected, the bicycles have been fairly popular. Unfortunately, though, we live on a hill. (Note to any parents or wannabe parents who are house-hunting -- hills are MUCH harder to navigate on bicycles, scooters, roller skates, etc.)

Four-year-old has no problem navigating down the hills to flatter ground. Six-year-old, though, simply has not built up his confidence over the years.

So, during my interview a few weeks ago with Glen Harrison, of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, I asked about how to teach a kid to ride on two wheels instead of four.

His reaction: "I never recommend training wheels."

Really, no training wheels? How do they learn to ride a bike then?

Turns out that training wheels don't teach kids balance, Harrison says. And without balance, you can't ride on two wheels. Instead, Harrison recommends taking the pedals off the bike and lowering the seat so that the feet are comfortable on the ground. Have the kids push themselves along. Soon enough, they'll start to lift their feet and roll as far as they can. And eventually, you can encourage them to steer the bike in a slalom pattern with their feet up. During this process, teach them to stop, steer and balance. Once they can do that comfortably, it's time to restore the pedals. This can be done one pedal at a time starting with the right pedal or both together depending on the child.

That's when you teach them the 2 o'clock position. Push down on the pedal and the bike rolls. And with that, most kids are riding.

Like anything, though, if you've got a fearful child, don't expect the process to go quickly. We took the training wheels and pedals off last week. After about 15 minutes with a little gliding in Washington's August heat, 6-year-old was off to other activities.

How have you taught your kids to ride on two wheels? Do you have any other tips to add to Harrison's advice?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  August 13, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers
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Comments


Take the pedals off the bike?

Posted by: Oh, brother | August 13, 2008 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Actually, you could just buy a two wheel bike that has no pedals. Not that tough. In any event, our three year old LOVES riding with the training wheels, and it took us SO LONG with the tricycle to get him to pedal. I do not think that is a failure...
My older son has not had much luck with riding his bicycle without the training wheels.

The reality is that the younger one was out riding (outside, while my FIL asked him to come in and he went inside) son promptly took bicycle down the hill and rode into our fence. Busted his lip (6 stitches) and had his front tooth taken out (dentist said: no biggie...he has an adult tooth coming in).

Our eldest is a very cautious kid, and the younger one is a daredevil. That's the difference. Yes, I didn't get a bike with training wheels til I was older than the 3 YO, but hey, we have the bike and he LOVES riding it. What's the problem?

Posted by: atlmom | August 13, 2008 7:38 AM | Report abuse

BEACH - take the child to the beach! I have taught 3 of my children to ride bikes on the beach (they were between 5 and 6 years old) AND on the beach it only takes about 1 to 2 hours to teach them.

On the beach, the children have no fear of falling (or very little) because they know the sand is soft and won't hurt as much as a driveway/street/sidewalk. Plus - there is nothing scaring them - no cars, no one else on bikes (like a bike path) no big pressure. And no hills!

With our oldest, this was after months of training wheels and holding onto her bike without them, etc. But then we got her to the beach and it was so easy!

Anywhere the beach is wide and flat (and has a low tide where the sand is hard enough to support a child on a bike) works great. Although we didn't live at the beach, we just brought their bikes for a long weekend vacation, taught the child, and then returned to No. Va. where they could ride on our hilly street without fear (although with more caution b/c it is more dangerous to ride in a busy area).

Posted by: Amelia | August 13, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

The bike with no pedals is absolutely great. My SIL got one when she was living in Germany, said the Germans don't use training wheels at all, but instead use these glider bikes. Her son started using it at 3, and was a real pro by the time I saw him on it a year later; once he was big enough to fit on a regular bike, he figured out pedaling in one afternoon, and had a much, much easier time than my daughter did with training wheels. My niece has it now, and once she moves on to a big bike so I can snag it for my son.

The other problem we've run into is that the standard cheap kids' bikes are ridiculously heavy, which makes learning how to balance and turn a lot harder (especially at slow "training" speeds).

Posted by: Laura | August 13, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Don't overthink it! Is this honestly a topic? What's next - how to teach kids hopscotch - seriously.

Posted by: moxiemom | August 13, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

"Don't overthink it! Is this honestly a topic? "

Yes. And an "expert" was consulted! Tee-hee.

Did Stacey's kid ever learn how to ride a bike?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

4 year old "figured out pedaling in one afternoon"

Harvard material.

Posted by: Is this for real? | August 13, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Amelia with respect to the sand but you don't have to go to the beach to achieve the same feeling. Local baseball diamonds provide the same benefit.
I taught my daughter how to ride when she was 4 in a high school parking lot. She didn't feel like she had control and refused to ride the bike for 2 years! At 6, my husband and I took her up to the local park and helped her ride around on the baseball diamond. The sand felt soft to her feet so she wasn't afraid of falling (plus I had a pocket full of band aids so she felt comfortable on that front). The sand also had the added benefit of slowing the bike down so she didn't feel like she would loose control.
I think that learning how to ride a bike is a much bigger issue in urban and suburban areas where the population density prevents kids from riding in the streets. My daughter wanted to master the control of her bike because she knew she would have to navigate the very narrow sidewalks on our street.

Posted by: 21117 | August 13, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

We used something from wallabykids.com, it is like a vest with a handle on the back. The kid wears it while on the bike, and the parent holds on to the handle of vest - NOT the bike. It gives the kid a greater sense of stability, and doesn't kill your back in the process.

Also, for our older son, we hired a neighborhood teenager to work with him. Too many tears when working with mom and dad. WOrked like a charm.

Posted by: Elizabeth | August 13, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Ok... we are behind the eight ball on this one I think. We JUST got the 3 and 6 year old a bike (with training wheels). Since we never have the bike at our house, I think the learning will be placed on Mom.

I can remember learning to ride a bike when I was little. I don't remember how old I was but we were driving down this road that was next to a river. At this particular spot, the river and road was separated by a LARGE, ROCKY incline. I was riding between my mother and father and somehow got out from between them and went down this rocky incline to land in the river. Bike survived, I was a little banged up. We still laugh at how I managed that feat.

Posted by: Billie | August 13, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Wow! Most of the kids I grew up with TAUGHT THEMSELVES how to ride bikes.

We learned how to deal with fears, falling down, getting hurt, and getting back up on the bike. No uber parents, no training wheels, no gimmicks, and no sand. All by ourselves! Gosh.

Posted by: Who'd have thunk it? | August 13, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I agree that training wheels are horrible! I speak from experience -- I got them for both of my children. The training wheels are a crutch. My oldest was scared to even consider taking them off, however, she was embarrassed to be seen in training wheels. Therefore, she didn't want to ride!

So I decided that at age 5, if a child is healthy, there should be no reason they can't learn to balance on a bike. My oldest was 7 and her brother was 5. I took the training wheels off, took them to the school parking lot on a Sunday (flat and no cars), and told them we would not be going home until they learned to ride. I helped them out. In less than 20 minutes, my son was whizzing around the parking lot. In about 45 minutes, my scared daughter also figured it out. They were sooooo thrilled! They couldn't believe it!

Don't fall into the training wheel trap!

Posted by: 12SLP34 | August 13, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

For the snotty people snarking about a 4 year old "getting" pedaling in an afternoon. It's not unreasonable. Until about 2 or 2 1/2, kids can't pedal. The tend to push with both feet at the same time - thus ride-on toys work better for them. After that, developmentally, kids are able to move one foot at a time. Depending on the kid and his/her birthday, mom and dad may have decided to wait until 4 to get a bike.

Posted by: Preschool Teacher | August 13, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Preschool Teacher

"For the snotty people snarking about a 4 year old "getting" pedaling in an afternoon."


#1 OP Rule "No bragging about unremarkable children."

Are you really a "teacher"? Is "Snotty" the best adjective you know?

Posted by: PPlease, child | August 13, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

(Note to any parents or wannabe parents who are house-hunting -- hills are MUCH harder to navigate on bicycles, scooters, roller skates, etc.)

Are you kidding me? Is this really something that you have to tell us?

Posted by: McFly | August 13, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

(Note to any parents or wannabe parents who are house-hunting -- hills are MUCH harder to navigate on bicycles, scooters, roller skates, etc.)

Are you kidding me? Is this really something that you have to tell us?

Posted by: McFly | August 13, 2008 9:09 AM

Note to any parents - kids need to breathe.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

We started our daughter with a scooter -- not a Razor, but a larger unit with large (10"? 12"?) wheels that would roll easily over imperfect pavement, the back yard, etc., and bicycle-type handbrakes. Found it at Toys 'R' Us. That's how she learned to balance.

When we got her a bicycle, we did put on the training wheels -- but I raised them up a bit so that they weren't touching the ground all the time. That way, she could learn to balance without the fear of falling over completely. As her confidence grew, I kept raising them up little by little (the mounting hole was elongaged, providing about an inch or so of adjustability) until their only function was to keep the bike from falling over in the garage. I took off the training wheels, installed a kickstand, and that was that.

Posted by: Dadbert | August 13, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

"the standard cheap kids' bikes are ridiculously heavy, which makes learning how to balance and turn a lot harder"

Laura, you are half-right. Kid's bicycles are intentially constructed so the rider has a lower center of gravity making it easier for the child to balance. Yes, maneuverability is sacrificed.

"Is this honestly a topic?"

Moxiemom, if you ask me, teaching a kid how to ride a bike is one of the true tests and milestones of parenting. It's right up there with potty training, where there are countless books written over the centuries about it. In fact, I would put it above potty training because a kid will eventually become potty trained no matter what a parent does. Not so with riding a bicycle, which to teach safely and effectively includes just about every parenting skill known to man.

When I was teaching my 6 year old daughter how to ride , I heard the words, "look Daddy, I'm riding a bike!" I would put that moment in the top 10 of the happiest experiences I've ever had in my life. I finally *felt* like I was a real dad.

Posted by: DandyLion | August 13, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

hey 12slp34, the same thing is going on with my son right now. he was a great rider on training wheels. we would do 4 & 5 mile bike rides every saturday morning. i thought he was ready to take the training wheels off & pushed it way way too hard. result is that now he really doesn't want to ride. we'll get through this spot but it will take some time.

Posted by: quark | August 13, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse


"Not so with riding a bicycle, which to teach safely and effectively includes just about every parenting skill known to man"

Wrong again, Fu4!

Most kids can teach themselves how to ride a bike. No uber parent required.

"if you ask me, teaching a kid how to ride a bike is one of the true tests and milestones of parenting"

Pathetic, really pathetic.

Posted by: How the heck did we ever make it to the moon? | August 13, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Not only how the heck did we ever make it to the moon, how the heck do these people even make it out the front door in the morning with all the fearful challenges (hills! oh no!), pedals (how passe), and the need to consult an "expert" on no-brainers like this.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

to: Posted by: How the heck did we ever make it to the moon? | August 13, 2008 9:39 AM

I believe pathetic is more the word I would use to describe you. Why try to take away someone's joy at their child's accomplishment? Jealous or just plain unhappy?

Posted by: McFly | August 13, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

How the heck did we ever make it to the moon?

Good question.

First we learn to crawl, then we walk, then we run. After that, we learn to ride a bike, drive a car, fly a plane, pilot a jet.

Only after we learn these skills do we become astronauts.

BTW: The Wright brothers managed a bicycle shop. No mystery to me why they were the first men to fly.

Posted by: DandyLion | August 13, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I believe pathetic is more the word I would use to describe you. Why try to take away someone's joy at their child's accomplishment? Jealous or just plain unhappy?

Posted by: McFly | August 13, 2008 9:46 AM


It took 6 years for this guy to feel like a "real dad". That is pathetic for the dad and the kid.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I get it. Stacey's 4 year old has more guts than her 6 year old. What else is new?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Training wheels worked great for us. Just bend them up a bit as your child gets better and they will be balancing on the primarily wheels with the training wheels as a fail-safe. Taking them off becomes a non-event. 5 minutes on the tennis court at the park down the street did the trick.

Posted by: Bend them Up | August 13, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: How the heck did we ever make it to the moon? | August 13, 2008 9:39 AM

http://www.comics.com/comics/frazz/archive/frazz-20080805.html

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: How the heck did we ever make it to the moon? | August 13, 2008 9:39 AM

http://www.comics.com/comics/frazz/archive/frazz-20080805.html


Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 10:15 AM


Multilevel irony on the OP. Cool.

Artist of the above cartoon "Mallett lives in Lansing, Mich., with his wife, Patty, too many pets and about as many bicycles. Mallett learned to read at an early age by poring over the comics, and he never lost interest in them. He taught himself to draw and paid attention to people who could write."

Posted by: Self-taught biker | August 13, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I think rule #1 for learning to ride a bike (as with most things) is "don't make it more complicated than it needs to be."

The advice from Glen Harrison is pretty much spot on--don't use training wheels, focus on learning to balance, keep the seat low so a child can start and stop with his feet. But there's really no need to take off the pedals, and certainly no need to buy a special push bike. Just tell the kid NOT to use the pedals.

This was the method we used with my daughter last year when she was learning to ride. But to speed things up we took her and her bike to an area that had a long gentle grassy slope and had her go down it again and again using only her feet to start and stop. She was balancing within a half an hour (and she's probably the biggest klutz in the world in general, so this surprised me). Once she got the balancing down, she started adding in pedaling and within a week she was cycling like she always knew how. If we needed to "spot" her while she was riding early on, we kept a hand on her lower back instead of the seat of the bike--when you hold onto the seat you're controlling the balance and steering too much. A hand on the lower back supports without getting in the way of the child doing the work of cycling herself.

Oh, and one more thing--it's only going to work if the kid is motivated and wants to learn. If he doesn't want to learn, don't push it.

Posted by: Sarah | August 13, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

We had a really hard time teaching my oldest to ride. She was 8 before she willingly got on a bike to learn to ride. I think it was the fact that all the kids in the neighborhood started riding together and she was embarassed by her training wheels. Her Dad took her to the park and had her ride in the grass. She was riding in less than 20 minutes. I think we will try taking the training wheels off of 6 y/o bike, maybe 4 y/o, too. I think that sounds like a perfectly logical way to teach a kid to ride.

Posted by: Momof5 | August 13, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

so how do i teach my wife how to ride a bike? she never learned. i tried teaching her but she's so scared of falling and cant balance. any tips?

Posted by: spouse | August 13, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I left the training wheels on for much longer than my peers. I got teased some, but even then I thought that the kids doing the teasing were jerks.

I asked my dad to take off the training wheels when my 3rd grade class was going on a bike ride--no training wheels allowed.

Now I'm a triathlete. So what's my point? Simply this: don't worry about the training wheels. It's just not that big a deal.

Posted by: KateNonymous | August 13, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Right on, 8:51 -- We did, too. On an unpaved gravel road. No training wheels, no helicopter parents, no broken bones, no medical emergencies, no wussy kids back in those days. In fact I never had my own bike, had to borrow my brother's bike when he wasn't on it.

Posted by: Must be a slow news day... | August 13, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

any advice on teaching kids how to drive?

Posted by: hockeymom | August 13, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"Is "Snotty" the best adjective you know?"

It beats the over-used "nasty" and "mean". In this instance, "snotty" is even accurate!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

To spouse: not only do kids have a lower center of gravity, but their bikes have a lower center of gravity as well so it's a lot easier for them to learn to ride (plus that total fearlessness thing helps).

There are classes available to teach adults to ride a bike, but if you can't find one near you (ask at a local bike shop), you may want to invest in a Townie bike if your wife is really motivated to learn. These bikes are more stable and are designed so that you can put your feet flat on the ground while also getting the right leg extension for pedaling, and you're in a completely upright position so you feel more in control. Adult learners feel a lot more comfortable on them. Beyond that, use the method described--ignore the pedals and practice balancing by starting and stopping with your feet. Work on a soft/slow surface like sand or grass so that if she DOES fall (which she won't if she can catch herself with her feet on the ground) there's no damage.

Posted by: Sarah | August 13, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"don't use training wheels"

I think this is poor advice if your child is under 4 years old. The basic requirement for a child to ride a 2 wheeler is to have developed the leg strength and pedal coordination to ride fast enough to remain upright. Although my 1st learned to ride a few weeks shy of her 7th birthday, the other 3 learned at 4.2, 4.0 and 3.5 years old respectively. The reason I think the younger kids learned at an earlier age than their oldest sister is due to the training wheels that allowed them to ride with their older siblings and neighborhood kids.

The trick for younger kids is knowing when to remove the training wheels. The way I worked it is by setting the training wheels low. When the kid began wrecking by going too fast around a turn, I took a hammer and pounded the training wheels higher off the ground. As noted above by Dadbert by using the adjustment on the training wheels to raise them, I found a hammer much more effective than unscrewing and tightening the axel bolts.

there is one huge drawback I found out
from my kids learning to ride at an early age though. Cars! The younger they are, the less maturity they have in knowing how to stay out of their way.

Posted by: DandyLion | August 13, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Too bad I did not know about "no pedals" approach when my kids were learning to ride. I took off the training weels anyway, and let them sink or swim with variable success. The older girl never really enjoyed it, the older son eventually learned, and the younger son went through three bikes until we finally found one that worked for him. The best one was the LIGHTEST, and ironically, the cheapest. No gears, no hand brakes, direct drive, that one was the easiest to learn, and it happened when the youngest was almost seven. So, Stacey could try to borrow different kinds of bikes from her son's friends to find the optimal one. Six is not too old, as some people here imply, but if he doesn't learn by 8-10 this could become a psychological barrier. Incidentally, there is a service in DC area when a coach comes to your kid and teaches him or her. Usually takes a day or two, less stressfull than parents huffing and puffing, especially for the kids with emotional problems. I understand that I'm opening a can of worms here. Before you shoot, please remember -- I did not recomend any particular service, Google it yourself.

Posted by: Medina | August 13, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

DandyLion

"Although my 1st learned to ride a few weeks shy of her 7th birthday, the other 3 learned at 4.2, 4.0 and 3.5 years old respectively"

Exact ages aren't required. Do you have a life? Sheesh.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

My dad got tired of me trying to teach me so he just pushed the bike and me out to the backyard and said, "Learn now!"

I ran right into a orange tree. (such a traumatic childhood!)

After kissing the tree, I had enough motivation to learn that afternoon.

Posted by: That Orange Tree is BIG! | August 13, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Exact ages aren't required
||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

Better not let Army Brat hear that!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Medina

"Incidentally, there is a service in DC area when a coach comes to your kid and teaches him or her."


Besides biking, what stuff do they coach? Is it for kids only? Price?

Posted by: Interesting | August 13, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Exact ages aren't required. Do you have a life? Sheesh.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 12:17 PM

Who died and made you Hall Monitor? Is you life empty without that bright orange sash to make you feel ever so omnipotent?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Exact ages aren't required
||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

Better not let Army Brat hear that!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 12:38 PM

LOL!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"Exact ages aren't required"

The difference between a child that has just turned 3 and a child that hasn't quite reached 5 is roughly 2 years. 2 years out of 5 = 40%.

You don't make it to the moon on measurements that are 40% accurate!

You might make a career as a weather forecaster out of it though.

Posted by: Sticking up for AB | August 13, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"You don't make it to the moon on measurements that are 40% accurate!"

Not to worry. Fo4, abt, and AB are scheduled for that flight, code name "OP Clean Sweep".
Sayonara!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I've been reading for 2 months. AB=ArmyBrat, I've read ATB and her flat stomach, but who or what is FO4? An inside joke?

Posted by: can someone explain? | August 13, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"who or what is FO4?"

AKA Father of four

Check out the WaPo.com "On Balance" blog for his posts.............um.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Fo4 aka Dandylion aka Wacky Weasel is a regular poster. You should take anything he says with a ton of salt--most of it is meant to be humorous or TIC but just doesn't come accross sometimes...

Posted by: Why did you have to ask? | August 13, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of which, I am sure glad that Jed Clampett, Cecilia and Donna seem to be gone!

Posted by: Why did you have to ask? | August 13, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Re: Fo4 -"most of it is meant to be humorous or TIC"

How do you know?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

training wheels - no training wheels?

Just have fun. they'll learn.Both my kids had training wheels and after some time I took them off. They did just fine. I think it took a week or two and only a little of my time, but they were riding away in no time.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of which, I am sure glad that Jed Clampett, Cecilia and Donna seem to be gone!

Posted by: Why did you have to ask? | August 13, 2008 1:38 PM

I am NOT gone. my husband is gone after i kicked him outta the house. i found him sleeping with my brother.

Posted by: Donna | August 13, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

i am NOT gone. my husband is gone after i kicked him outta the house. i found him sleeping with my brother.

Posted by: Donna | August 13, 2008 1:48 PM

It wasn't your brother, it was your Mother! And what is wrong with "sleeping"? Sober up and pay attention!

Posted by: Very truly yours | August 13, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

taught my nephew by simply attaching one training wheel higher than the other. let him ride around for awhile like that then i would tell to sit up straight. before he knew it he had to balance the bike to ride straight up and down.

worked for his older sister brother and ME! :)

Posted by: NALL92 | August 13, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

How I learned to ride was a brand new bike on my 8th birthday. Well, I had no idea how to ride. EVERYONE tried to teach me. Mom, dad (well, maybe...possibly...), and two older sisters. NONE of it worked. I went out ON MY OWN, around our streets (anathema to parents these days) and taught myself. No training wheels, etc.

Posted by: atlmom | August 13, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

How I learned to ride was a brand new bike on my 8th birthday. Well, I had no idea how to ride. EVERYONE tried to teach me. Mom, dad (well, maybe...possibly...), and two older sisters. NONE of it worked. I went out ON MY OWN, around our streets (anathema to parents these days) and taught myself. No training wheels, etc.

Posted by: atlmom | August 13, 2008 2:38 PM

Wow. Thats Impressive! You are AWESOME!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Thats Impressive! You are AWESOME!

But she doesn't have a flat stomach like atb!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

My point is that parents don't need to bribe or force or anything - kids will learn on their own. It is NOT like driving a car, where you need help ...or actually, not getting it can have serious consequences.

My point isn't that I'm unusual, far from it. My experience is probably the norm in a world where parents can and should get out of the way.

Posted by: atlmom | August 13, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"Wow. Thats Impressive! You are AWESOME!"

It's kinda funny how altmom tends to be the heroine of most of her posts........

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't remember anyone having to teach me how to ride a bike but somehow I learned. Of course, I didn't need a "play date" to organize my playing either.

Posted by: SpareTheRod | August 13, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

sparetherod: make no mistake: most playdates are for the parents. :)

Posted by: atlmom | August 13, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

My experience is probably the norm in a world where parents can and should get out of the way.

Posted by: atlmom | August 13, 2008 2:57 PM

I agree, but what would the uber parents have to brag about?

Posted by: No payoff | August 13, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I don't remember anyone having to teach me how to ride a bike but somehow I learned. Of course, I didn't need a "play date" to organize my playing either.

Posted by: SpareTheRod | August 13, 2008 2:59 PM

And no fugly bicycle helmet.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

If I fell off the bike I put my arms out to catch myself and protect my head--survival instinct!

Posted by: SpareTheRod | August 13, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

fr Anonymous:

>...And no fugly bicycle helmet....

Better the helmet gets cracked than your head. Several years ago, my dad knew a fellow who refused to wear a helmet for whatever reason when he cycled, even though people would urge him to get one. One day "Jim" was rear-ended was thrown off of his bike. By the time they life-flighted him to the nearest trauma center, (30 miles away) he was DEAD.

Think about it.....

Posted by: alex | August 13, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

DD learned to ride a bike about a month after her 5th b-day. We live at the bottom of a sloped street in a cul-de-sac, so we had ideal conditions. Nevertheless, we decided to aim our safety-conscious child UPhill when she was learning instead of downhill. She felt more in control this way and DH, who was recovering from injuries sustained in a work-related accident, could keep up with her when she was riding. She had it down in an hour or two. She'd been riding with training wheels for a couple of years at this time and they didn't seem to impact her negatively in terms of balance.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | August 13, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

One day "Jim" was rear-ended was thrown off of his bike. By the time they life-flighted him to the nearest trauma center, (30 miles away) he was DEAD.

Think about it.....

Posted by: alex | August 13, 2008 3:28 PM


Darwinism takes its course...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey, over at OP, they are talkin' about training wheels for bicycles. So appropiate as that blog needs training wheels.

(no really good snarks today tho...)

Posted by: Blog Watcher | August 13, 2008 3:36 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

My point is that parents don't need to bribe or force or anything - kids will learn on their own.

Posted by: atlmom | August 13, 2008 2:57 PM


Errr. No. They will not. A lot of kids don't see the point in riding a bike. Kids learn to drive because they have to learn in order to have a social life. There's nothing that requires a kid to learn to ride a bike - hence, many will not choose to do so. You wanted to. Whoopie for you.

Not every kid is like you - big surprise.

Posted by: a legend in her own mind | August 13, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

sparetherod: make no mistake: most playdates are for the parents. :)

Posted by: atlmom | August 13, 2008 3:02 PM

The playdate is the only way my daughter would ever see her school friends. They live miles apart, beyond walking or riding to each other's houses. They don't ride the same bus home from school.

Why do you or anyone else care so much who my kid plays with? MYOB.

Posted by: Get Eal | August 13, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Much as I hate to agree with Legend, s/he is right. Many of DD's friends don't know how to ride a bike. These kids are 10. Their parents drive them everywhere and are afraid to let them ride in the neighborhood. DH and I are surprised at the number of kids we meet who don't know how to ride a bike, scooter, or use roller/inline skates. Most have parents who are afraid to let their kids play outside.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | August 13, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

My grandfather tried to teach me when I was 7, but he was pushy and gruff and I was not athletic so it turned me off to the whole thing. I just enjoyed my scooter since we lived in a ghetto where I couldn't really bike anyway. When he bought me ANOTHER bike when I was 12, I decided to try it and I was able to ride right away.

I agree with the others- be positive, let the kids do what they will. If you have good tricks, use them, but really, it's just bikes.

Posted by: Liz D | August 13, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Much as I hate to agree with Legend, s/he is right. Many of DD's friends don't know how to ride a bike. These kids are 10. Their parents drive them everywhere and are afraid to let them ride in the neighborhood. DH and I are surprised at the number of kids we meet who don't know how to ride a bike, scooter, or use roller/inline skates. Most have parents who are afraid to let their kids play outside.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | August 13, 2008 3:50 PM

I don't let my kids play outside. Its much too dangerous for them. I let them play quietly inside. Reading and arts and crafts are appropriate activities for them.

Posted by: Cecilia | August 13, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Is it spelled Cecilia or Cecelia?

Do you have 1 "precious" or multiple children?

Didn't you say before that you let your child(ren) play in your fenced-in back yard?

Posted by: get your story straight | August 13, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

And so what if they never do learn to ride? I mean, for me, it was a way to get around, and it was fun, and everyone else knew. But if they don't have a need for the skill - then what's the big deal? I went to college with someone who grew up in a city, so he never learned to drive (the horror!!!).

I learned to drive cause (again) it was cool, and a way to get around, but certainly didn't have a car, so I still had to walk or bike most places.

So if the kid doesn't want to learn, why force or bribe them, then?

Posted by: atlmom | August 13, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I learned to ride as an adult, and the way I learned was as follows:

Sit on the bike, with your feet touching the floor. HAve a partner hold the rear wheel. Have the partner tip the rear wheel right, while you counterbalance by turning the handlebars to the left. Repeat 10x each side, then alternate, then increase speed. Then buy partner a beer becuase she's real tired, but you are pretty much ready to take it to the streets at that point.

Posted by: Matt | August 13, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Atlmom:

A bike is a ticket to independence for a kid. Kids who can bike don't have to rely on mom to get them to a friend's house or even to and from school, depending upon the distance and safety issues involved in that route.

I just think it's a shame that a parent has to drive a 10-year-old around the corner to a friend's house. That kid should be able to ride or walk, not be constantly chaperoned. Most kids that age are ready for and need a least some independence and a bike is a good way to provide it.

It's also a good way to provide exercise. Want to head to your friend's house to play Nintendo? Ride the bike! I wasn't an athletic kid and hated sports, but I rode my bike all over town (library, friends houses, the community pool, school, etc.) and stayed in good shape as a result.

I don't think ALL kids HAVE to ride a bike. But I think fewer kids are learning and from what I've seen in my admittedly limited experience is that these kids get less sunshine and exercise and have fewer opportunities to exercise their independence. YMMV.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | August 13, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Vegas mom: my point exactly - tell the kid they can go if they ride their bike. Or make it clear they can go if they do, or whatever. I don't understand why any kid wouldn't want the independence of riding a bike and being able to get around. That's really what i meant - most kids would figure out a way to ride if left to their own senses...even if it's - mom, can you help me learn this so i can go to so and so's house to play?

Posted by: atlmom | August 13, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I learned to ride as an adult, and the way I learned was as follows:

Sit on the bike, with your feet touching the floor. HAve a partner hold the rear wheel. Have the partner tip the rear wheel right, while you counterbalance by turning the handlebars to the left. Repeat 10x each side, then alternate, then increase speed. Then buy partner a beer becuase she's real tired, but you are pretty much ready to take it to the streets at that point.

Posted by: Matt | August 13, 2008 4:00 PM


Luckily, my children aren't allowed on the computer so they can't read dangerous comments like these.

Posted by: Cecilia | August 13, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Agreed Atlmom. I think I switched gears on you (and myself, LOL) and was ranting a bit on something different -- parents who don't give their kids that independence and continue to shuttle them everywhere, even around the corner, because they're afraid to let them out of their sight. I've met more than one kid who've told me it's a waste of time to learn -- mom and dad drive them anywhere they want to go, so why put the effort into a bike?

Posted by: Vegas Mom | August 13, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

This is the real Cecilia, people are mocking me again. I have not posted any comments today before this one. I have only one little precious and I have never said anything about the my backyard--maybe because we live in a apartment.

I seldom post here anymore because people are so hateful. I do read the insightful comments from the few who want to stick to the topic of the day.

Posted by: Cecilia | August 13, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

This is the real Cecilia, people are mocking me again. I have not posted any comments today before this one. I have only one little precious and I have never said anything about the my backyard--maybe because we live in a apartment.

I seldom post here anymore because people are so hateful. I do read the insightful comments from the few who want to stick to the topic of the day.

Posted by: Cecilia | August 13, 2008 5:28 PM


Wait a second. I was the one posting at 4:38 and earlier. I am not mocking you. My name is Cecilia as well. So before you go off spewing insults, watch it!

Posted by: Cecilia | August 13, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

My name is Cecilia as well.


WELL, you just need to find another name. I am the Cecilia with the LE hubby and only one little precious.

Posted by: Cecilia | August 13, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

And before you say anything more, C., my LE hubby tells me that possession is 99% of the law and I was here first!

Posted by: Cecilia | August 13, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Okay, vegas mom, that makes total sense - then we agree. My thought would be: hey, you want to go, walk, or ride a bike - at some point, no i'm not driving the kid.

Like today (*sigh*) - I dropped my 6 YO off at school early for chess club, and I had no idea where he was going - so I hoped he got where he was going and then to his classroom. He assured me he knew where the auditorium was and how to get to his classroom. He's all grown up *tear*

Posted by: atlmom | August 13, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

So if the kid doesn't want to learn, why force or bribe them, then?

Posted by: atlmom | August 13, 2008 4:00 PM

Some things aren't up for a democratic vote. My kids need to know how to swim, ride a bike, and use a compass. I could give a crap whether they WANT to learn these basic skills. Is everything at your house about democracy? Sheesh. Be the parent. You force them to eat their vegetables. Force them to learn how to ride a bike. If you are actually good at this parenting thing, they won't feel the "force", they just do the right thing because you make it easy to do the right thing.


Bikes are not necessarily about independence. Again, it's not all about how you were and how you were raised and how you think. Depending on where you live there might be nowhere to bike to other than more houses. Still, you need to know how to ride an effin bike.

Posted by: Legend | August 13, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I remember learning to ride when I was around 6 - Dad took my sister and me out back and we learned in a field. We weren't allowed on cement until we could ride in the fields for a specific distance.

With our firstborn daughter, my husband and I simply started raising the training wheels a little at a time when she was 5 so she could establish balance but still have support if necessary. When she came to us and announced the training wheels were simply getting in the way, we removed them for her.

Our second child was so competitive we never had to teach him to ride with two wheels. He insisted we remove the training wheels after his first ride - and he was 4 - and he was off and riding to keep up with his sister.

With our youngest, my husband noticed that he had great balance on his scooter so he decided to try him on the bike without training wheels. He was 3 - and he's never had training wheels again. That's actually the method we've recommended to our neighbors, too, since most of the kids have scooters anyway. The only one that hasn't come around so far is the mom who has her child on a 3-wheel scooter (I didn't even know they made those!).

Posted by: Transplant | August 14, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

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