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Old 03-25-08, 07:37 PM   #1
devildogmech
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Calling all Dad's

Hey all,

I have a soon to be 7yo son, who will NOT stay up on his bike!

I admit, I'm NOT a good teacher..... I'm trying as hard as I can, and my level of patience has amazed my wife.... But I'm going to loose it.... I understand him being uncoordinated (I was 8 when I learned how to ride), but that's not his problem.... He has plenty of balance, but wont look ahead and wont keep his shoulders level... He keeps leaning over, and wont listen when I try to tell him what he's doing wrong.

I know this is my fault..... What can I do to help him....He really wants to go riding with me!

TIA

Billy
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Old 03-25-08, 08:15 PM   #2
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all my kids did the same thing, what it is they are afraid of falling. You think he doesn't listen now wait tell you get to the old man is stupid phase that last for about 14 to 25. After that you'll get smart again. Try to survive him. He'll be riding before you know it and you will be very proud until he leaves his bike out and you roll over it with your car.
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Old 03-25-08, 08:16 PM   #3
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I'm no Dad but I have some advice.

First off keep your cool. Even if you think you are cool, he is probably sensing your frustration. You have already taught him the basics. Put him in the yard with the bike and leave him alone. He will learn. He'll remember what you said and he will use it to teach himself. If you can get him to ride a girls bike, that will help too. It will be easier for him to get on and off the bike.
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Old 03-25-08, 08:31 PM   #4
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I used a variant of a method that I saw on the Bicycling magazine website for both of my boys. I was plenty frustrated at first until they suddenly “got it”. Once you get them to that point where everything clicks the satisfaction will quickly overcome all the frustration that you have experienced. Try to keep the whole experience relaxed for him, as hard as that is. Fear of falling and pressure to learn seem to be the biggest roadblocks to learning from what I have seen.

What to do: Basically, you take off the training wheels, lower the saddle so that he can rest both feet flat on the ground, then find a smooth & grassy field w/ a gentle slope (the longer the better). My boys wore elbow pads, knee pads, & a helmet (of course) and I showed them how it didn’t hurt to fall on the grass. Go to the top of the slope & hold the handlebar w/ one hand and the back of the seat w/ the other while your son gets on the bike and puts his feet on the pedals. When he is ready, start him going down the hill while you hold on to the bike. Once you have done this a couple of times and he is comfortable pedaling, let go when he seems to be well balanced. Praise him up and down for any amount of riding he is able to do on his own without your help. Once he overcomes his fear and is able to do it on his own you can gradually work the seat up to where it needs to be. It takes a little while for things to click, but once they do he will progress quickly.
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Old 03-25-08, 08:41 PM   #5
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what he said ^^^
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Old 03-25-08, 08:48 PM   #6
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I'll try the field of grass trick.... My wife said to just leave it, and he will get so embarased that he will just do it....

I think he is sensing my frustration (I can get overbearing ).... I try not to show it, but its tough.... He has the same problem I do... If we try something and it doesnt work within the first two or three tries, we get VERY frustrated.... Its genetic, my Dad is the same way.... Its sad too, cuz I'm such a clutz that nothing ever works the first or fifth time!

Thanks all

Billy
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Old 03-25-08, 08:53 PM   #7
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Another technique I've heard recommended is to take off the pedals, and lower the seat so he can push himself along with his feat, and practise coasting and balancing.
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Old 03-25-08, 09:00 PM   #8
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I'll try the field of grass trick.... My wife said to just leave it, and he will get so embarased that he will just do it....

I think he is sensing my frustration (I can get overbearing ).... I try not to show it, but its tough.... He has the same problem I do... If we try something and it doesnt work within the first two or three tries, we get VERY frustrated.... Its genetic, my Dad is the same way.... Its sad too, cuz I'm such a clutz that nothing ever works the first or fifth time!

Thanks all

Billy
Try this as well, find a nice level, not muddy field. Take the bike and the kid. Hand bike to kid. Tell them to ride.

Here is the hard part. Go sit down. Let them screw with it. Grass is softer than pavement. He gets it, and he will get going. Just let him figure it out.

Please do not ask me how many times I lost my temper with my kids. My son, now 11, listened to a lot of stupid from me. So did his sister, who finally rode last year at 8.

My son is now happy to go with me on 20 mile rides, and I am working with both on hills. It's time to relax.


BTW--we can be the worst teachers of our own kids because of our emotional investment in their success. We can see the greatness in our kids, but only they can bring it out. (I hate that.) Good luck.
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Old 03-25-08, 09:02 PM   #9
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What to do: Basically, you take off the training wheels, lower the saddle so that he can rest both feet flat on the ground, then find a smooth & grassy field w/ a gentle slope (the longer the better).
That's the problem with the situation I got in. I "thought" that the 18" wheel bike I got my 9-year old would be small enough for his feet to rest on the ground with him in the saddle, but unfortunately that is not the case. It was a case where we saw it on closeout for $40 at Target, and it says ages 6-8 on the box, but he's small for his age I guess. As such, he can ride it with the training wheels on, but once he gets some speed up he starts to panic and no matter how many times I show him how to ride with my bike, he still makes jerky movements with the steering until it turns hard enough to tip right over in spite of the training wheels.

It was once he had it tip over and jam his leg into the pedal before I could catch him that he refused to try anymore. It stinks really, since the training wheels are preventing him from truly learning balance, but since he can't get his feet to the ground while in the saddle, he can't adequately dismount the bike once it starts going down. I guess I could go buy a bike with 12" or 16" wheels, but I'm kind of leaning towards just waiting until he grows enough to fit the bike. It's frustrating though, that's for sure. He sees how easily one of the 6-year old boys down the street rides his bike and is discouraged that at 9, he still can't figure it out.
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Old 03-25-08, 09:02 PM   #10
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Another technique I've heard recommended is to take off the pedals, and lower the seat so he can push himself along with his feat, and practise coasting and balancing.

I was going to say something about misspelllng feet(feat), but I think both make sense. Although "feat" is more metaphysical.
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Old 03-25-08, 09:05 PM   #11
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That's the problem with the situation I got in. I "thought" that the 18" wheel bike I got my 9-year old would be small enough for his feet to rest on the ground with him in the saddle, but unfortunately that is not the case. It was a case where we saw it on closeout for $40 at Target, and it says ages 6-8 on the box, but he's small for his age I guess. As such, he can ride it with the training wheels on, but once he gets some speed up he starts to panic and no matter how many times I show him how to ride with my bike, he still makes jerky movements with the steering until it turns hard enough to tip right over in spite of the training wheels.

It was once he had it tip over and jam his leg into the pedal before I could catch him that he refused to try anymore. It stinks really, since the training wheels are preventing him from truly learning balance, but since he can't get his feet to the ground while in the saddle, he can't adequately dismount the bike once it starts going down. I guess I could go buy a bike with 12" or 16" wheels, but I'm kind of leaning towards just waiting until he grows enough to fit the bike. It's frustrating though, that's for sure. He sees how easily one of the 6-year old boys down the street rides his bike and is discouraged that at 9, he still can't figure it out.
I got a trail-a-bike with my daughter. She discovered how fun it could be without falling. That really got her excited again. After that, the trick with the field really worked. I should have mentioned this earlier.
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Old 03-25-08, 09:07 PM   #12
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We will try the lowerd seat thing tommorow.... He's still trying to ride the tiny bike his Noni got him two years ago.... He was a WIZ with the training wheels..... If I dont push him to try, he wont, he's that affraid of falling....
I dont want to get him a new bike untill he can ride (especially if he wont be able to touch the ground!)

Too true about us seeing the magic they have..... ARGH!!!!

Thanks all

Billy
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Old 03-25-08, 09:35 PM   #13
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The adult knows that you have to go fast or you'll teeter and fall; the kid knows that if you go fast you'll just fall harder.

If your kid doesn't get it after a few sessions, it might be better to halt the lessons for a few days or even a few months. The muscles and nervous system have to be at the right stage of development or the kid can't ride no matter how hard you both try.
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Old 03-25-08, 10:42 PM   #14
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With both of my kids I just left the training wheels on until I noticed they were balancing without them. Then I took them off and had to "help" them until they figured out they were already doing it themselves. bk
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Old 03-26-08, 06:49 AM   #15
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My daughter learned to ride on a razor scooter. If you can balance one of those tiny wheeled pieces of junk a bike is easy. I'd like to get my son a pneumatic tired scooter like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Kent-09128-Sup...6535655&sr=8-4

If I had it to do again I'd never even buy my kids a bike untill they could balance a scooter. Training wheels are a crutch that will certainly delay learing to ride a bike.
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Old 03-26-08, 07:18 AM   #16
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I had a scooter very much like that when I was a kid..... It WAS alot easier to ride (untill you got going REALY fast).... I'll try to find one of those....

With three boys, I'm not too worried about buying stuff like that.... They will all get plenty of use out of it.
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Old 03-26-08, 07:44 AM   #17
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I was getting so frustrated with my daughter, but once she started rding the scooter she learned pretty quickly. At first she just kind of walked around with one leg on it. Then she'd coast for a little bit, then a little bit further. Before long she was scooting all round balancing and turning. After that it was an easy transition to a bike.
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Old 03-26-08, 09:38 AM   #18
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We did the grassy field thing with both our kids. The problem is the training wheels. They learn to ride one way with the wheels and then have to learn again without. If I had to do it over, I would buy one of those new balancing bikes without pedals or drivetrain. Or just remove the drivetrain from a small bike. Let the kids scoot around like Fred Flinstone and learn how to balance and steer on two wheels. Then the transition to pedaling should be easier.
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Old 03-26-08, 09:59 AM   #19
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Alas my kids are all mostly grown up (relative to yours) and my number 3 just got his first real road bike.

Advice: throw the bike in the car, drive about 3 miles away drop him off with the bike and start to drive away. He'll learn pretty quick...it is very similar to teaching a kid to swim, just throw him in and either let him inhale some water, or learn to stay up...it is amazing how quickly they get it.

In all seriousness. There have been some great suggestions up above. But I must say for now: Dad, step away from the bike, you sound a little wound up, and your little guy can sense that. He is probably desperately trying to please you, and combined with the stress, it is just not working yet. Back off, go out and play catch instead. He will pick it up when he is ready, could be tomorrow, could be next summer, don't worry he won't be going off to college not able to ride .
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Old 03-26-08, 10:03 AM   #20
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If I had to do it over, I would buy one of those new balancing bikes without pedals or drivetrain. Or just remove the drivetrain from a small bike. Let the kids scoot around like Fred Flinstone and learn how to balance and steer on two wheels. Then the transition to pedaling should be easier.
True, you can always remove the pedals in a few seconds with just an adjustable wrench. That gets the pedals out of the way and lets them ride it like an old fashioned hobby horse, as long as their feet reach the ground easily.
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Old 03-26-08, 11:42 AM   #21
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Check the bike geometry. Zinn once wrote of how he bought a bike for his daughter that had positive trail. She had great trouble learning how to ride the beast. The geometry made the bike want to fall into an ever-tightening turn. He ditched that bike & bought her one with decent geometry and then just laid it out in the yard without saying a word. She jumped on, took off & has not stopped since.
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Old 03-26-08, 01:21 PM   #22
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I think the bike is half the problem.... Its a Wally-world Mongoose (the in-laws bought it, not me).... Its too short, and too tall.... in order for him to pedal, the seat is so high, he cant put his feet down.... It just dosnt fit well.... We are going to get him a "razor" scooter this weekend, and ditch the "goose".....Now I need a bike for the 3yo!

TIA

Billy
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Old 03-26-08, 01:27 PM   #23
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Mr. Brown has some good information (as usual ) on teaching kids to ride.

Does your son have much experience with pedaling in general? If not, you may want to familiarize him through something stable (more than two wheels).

If so, I, personally, would try adding something silly to your routine to not only lighten the mood (and make you feel better) but also so that your son doesn't equate cycling to frustration.

Continuing the idea of the grassy field, I may tell him that for every so long he is able to ride, I will fall over on my bike (my beater). I'd probably do so in a silly and exaggerated manner, in a way he would find hilarious. If he is getting frustrated with the falling (not necessarily related to your frustration) it may also make him feel better that he's not the only one. Hopefully it would motivate him to try to stay up. Of course, this is just a random idea. Your son may react better to a slightly different situation, but the idea is there.

Have fun, its important.
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Old 03-26-08, 06:12 PM   #24
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Go on the Family forum. There is a very exhaustive thread on the subject. General rule is:
1. Take off training wheels (greatest cycling misnomer IMHO) and pedals (remembering LH pedal has LH thread) and the bike needs to be small enough for him to get his feet comfortably on ground
2. find slight, preferably grassy slope leading to flat ground
3. let him roll down slope - he will soon get hang of keeping his feet off ground and will roll some distance balancing
4. when he is confident let him start from higher up slope
5. when he can go some distance under control. Put pedals back on
6. if 5 successful it will be your turn to worry.

The reasoning behind taking off the pedals is that it reduces the things he has to do simultaneously, i.e. he only has to worry about balancing and steering. When he's got the hang of that, then he can learn to pedal. A bit like learning to drive, when you wonder how people manage to let clutch in change gear, look in mirror, steer and signal, more or less all at once. Assuming that you didn't learn to drive on an automatic box, that is.
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Old 03-27-08, 08:20 AM   #25
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Having taught my 3 kids, I found that one of them needed a very different approach. The first two were very receptive to the techniques listed above. They were concerned about riding, doing it right and making me proud. The last one didn't want that. He just wanted to spend time with me. After tried and true methods didn't work, I came to the realization that I had the wrong goal with him. Here is my advise..... Make sure your mind is on you and your son, not anywhere else. Don't be concerned about getting done so you can get somewhere. Make the goal to have fun today, not become an accomplished rider today. If the two of you go out and have fun, he will make more progress on the bike more quickly. This one will remember the time you spend together learning how to ride for the rest of his life. How do you want him to remember it? Do some stupid stuff that we did as kids. How far will this bike go with no one on it before it falls with a good push? You don't get this time back. Don't blow it.
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