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  1. #1
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    Having a hard time getting my daughter to ride without training wheels

    This is her second bike. It's a 16". When she stops she can reach the ground with her tiptoes. I can adjust the seat down a hair but not much. She was much too big for her toddler bike so I had to jump up to the 16" even though she maybe wasn't just ready for it. She is about to turn 6. My 4 year old son is as tall as her though... but don't get me wrong. My daughter is average height. My son is just VERY tall for his age.

    The training wheels that came on the bike factory bent over time as I had them raised up to let her teeter. This turned out very badly because they bent so much that she would just ride around leaning to one side all the time instead of learning to keep the bike upright. When she would turn quickly, it would fall to the other side (very dangerous as sometimes this would cause a crash). For sake of safety I took them completely off. We tried to teach her to ride by spending about 2 hours with her at the school behind our house on flat pavement but to no avail. She refused to get back on her bike for about a month.

    Two days ago we all went out riding and was trying to get her to ride again. She tried for about 45 minutes and just gave up. She seems to be balancing the bike okay (although she doesn't know it) until she realizes daddy isn't holding the bike anymore. She won't pedal either. This caused a lot of emotional anguish on her I'm sure as she was crying saying "I don't want a bike anymore. I hate it". Being the softy dad I am I went and bought new training wheels that were stronger than the stock ones. I installed them and we went riding for about an hour yesterday. She didn't want to stop!

    I know some will say I did wrong by going backwards and putting training wheels on her bike again but the old ones were worse because they were bent so badly. I want to get her happy about riding again and try again. How long should I wait before I try again? Any suggestions on me getting her to understand that when you stop pedaling you'll eventually stop and fall over?

    She bailed quite a few times and let the bike crash down. I told her that was good but that she didn't have to bail everytime as she could save some of them by just putting her feet down.

  2. #2
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    Bite the bullet and get her a s/h 14" wheel bike with usable brakes. Then search this section for advice on how to teach a kid to ride. Oh, all right, I'll repeat it:

    14" bike: Take stabilisers off, take pedals off, lower saddle so that she can easily reach ground.

    If possible, find a short slope which finishes on a level stretch of ground. Let her roll down the slope and continue across level ground by walking/running the bike along.

    She will soon get the idea of balancing without having to coordinate pedaling with it. Once she can go a decent distance that way with ther feet off the ground, put the pedals back on and away she will go. If you have to push her at all, don't push the bike, just press gently against her back - otherwise it will go where you are pushing it which may not quite be where she is steering it.

    Once she is up and away, try her on the 16 incher with the saddle pushed right down. If she's still a little nervous because it's a little large for her, wait until she becomes really confident on the 14" and then try the switch.

  3. #3
    Been around a time or two cyclingsource's Avatar
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    you should also start your son out using the no pedal method. it makes it so you do not even have to have them use training wheels. there are bikes you can get just for this purpose they do not even come with pedals. once they are comfortable with balancing they are ready for pedals. if you google training bike or bike with no pedals you will find some good ones. Good luck with the training!
    www.mycyclingsource.com - Your source for information and products about the grand sport of cycling!

  4. #4
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    Find a used 14" bike that she can use (and hopefully your son will be able to at some point also). It will help her feel comfortable and safe while riding.

    I'd back off on trying to teach her to ride on two wheels. She will learn on her own, i.e. don't force her to do it. Keep riding yourselves. Hopefully her friends or other kids in the neighborhood are riding. Peer pressure works best to encourage learning the skill.

    My first learned to ride at 5, second at 7, third is almost there at 4. The 7 year old surprised me when they started riding. I really wanted it to happen last year but I could see behavior very similar to your daughters. Those foot bikes can be good, it was playing the game of how far can you go without touching that got the 7 year old to find balance.

    Good Luck.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the input. I might see if I lower her seat down (it'll go down more if I take off the rear reflector for now. We only ride in daylight and never on roadways. I'll put it back on when she gets it down) and take off the wheels if she can do it with the 16". She's not far off on being able to use it. If not, I'll have to go with the 14" method.

    I learned to ride because of peer pressure from my older cousins when I was young. Unfortunately, she doesn't really have any cousins the same age that live nearby and we don't live in the nicest neighborhood for now (working on that one but it's a slow process getting back on your feet when life throws you curves) so we don't really communicate much with our neighbors.

    I'm going to ease off her though and try some of the techniques I've read here. I think I'm going to wait a couple weeks before I take the wheels off again though. That way I can get her used to having fun with it again.

  6. #6
    Sick Twisted Freak rxda90's Avatar
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    This is very reminiscent of my daughter ...

    She was emotionally dependent on her training wheels. Riding behind her, I could see that she was actually balancing very well (I had bent the training wheels up quite a lot), but there was no way she would get near the bike without them. She was absolutely mortified. This went on for TWO SUMMERS.

    For the sake of my sanity, I eventually gave up and let her ride with her training wheels.

    This summer, she was visiting her friend who had just gotten a new bike. I watched from afar as she mounted the old, rusty, two-wheeler, and rode it down the street as though she had been doing it forever. Within a month of this, we went on an 8-mile ride together. She sure made up for lost time!

    I think there is a life lesson here ... she'll do it when she's darn good and ready, and not a minute sooner.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rxda90 View Post
    This is very reminiscent of my daughter ...

    I think there is a life lesson here ... she'll do it when she's darn good and ready, and not a minute sooner.
    I have to agree. My daughter was a slow learner- and angst-ridden over any activity that remotely required coordination.

    Rather than force her -which is going to frighten her and drive her away from something that should be fun for a child- let her go at her own pace. Eventually she will convince herself she can do this, or she will see other children her age riding off into the sunset and will become determined to join them. The smaller bike might work, but I think she just needs to march to her own drummer at this point.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fern53 View Post
    I have to agree. My daughter was a slow learner- and angst-ridden over any activity that remotely required coordination.

    Rather than force her -which is going to frighten her and drive her away from something that should be fun for a child- let her go at her own pace. Eventually she will convince herself she can do this, or she will see other children her age riding off into the sunset and will become determined to join them. The smaller bike might work, but I think she just needs to march to her own drummer at this point.
    That's what I did with my son. On the one hand he was not the first in his K class to drop the training wheels, but he was the one with the most miles and days in, and once he did drop the training wheels he's really taken off (so to speak) in how much he rides. And how much he *can* ride. He's a better rider for going at his own pace (and not having been scared/guilted off the bike 'cause he wasn't passing X milestones in Y months).

  9. #9
    sarcasm meter: jerk mode santiago's Avatar
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    I have two daughters who are now 7 and 5. Last summer my then 6 year old was riding like this:


    I then took her training wheels off, put the seat post all the way down, took off the pedals and told her she now had a scooter bike. I put no pressure on her. I just told her that going around the neighborhood to visit friends or just for our evening walks she would now be getting around using the scooter bike.

    About a week later she kept asking me to put the pedals back on without the training wheels. After a few nervous starts, she was able to ride without any problems:


    Fast forward to this past spring. My youngest was almost 5 and she asked for the scooter bike. She didn't have any interest in using it last year but this year she really wanted to because she wanted to ride 2-wheels like her sister. Using the same method she was done riding in a little over a week as well. The first day or two, she was shuffling along like a little old lady on the bike. She kept getting quicker and more confident over time:


    My thoughts:
    - training wheels are evil as they teach bad leaning habits
    - put no pressure on the child, what this means is to let the child get around on the scooter bike. The bike should not be the purpose of the outing, it should be the means to something else. ("Let's go drop this letter off at the mailbox and let's take your scooter bike.")
    - my niece is 3 months old. For her 2nd birthday I will buy her a scooter bike along these lines:
    First Class Jerk

  10. #10
    Senior Member st0ut's Avatar
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    This is how i got my son on 2 wheels...
    at 4 he was on a tab so he knew what it was like to lean into a courner and fall.

    at 6 he got a replacment bike that HE got to pick out @ the LBS. for his birthday. BUT he was not allowed to pick out a bike with training wheels.

    2 weeks of grass and he was up on 2.
    Cars make you weak.

  11. #11
    Senior Member natbla's Avatar
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    I just taught my daughter to ride here is my post from yesterday over on the clydes forum:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...95#post7224795

    I think the key was she was ready to do it. She was bugging me to take the training wheels off. I think that was key. I also think that making sure that she had knee pads and elbow pads to minimize the impact that crashes will cause to the learning curve.

    I am pro-training wheels simply because the joy of biking is only instilled by the ease of pedaling for the bike. Anything that is mis-learned about leaning can be relearned once a kid is excited about riding and ready to learn to ride w/o training wheels.

  12. #12
    Tell a thousand lies... BurnMyEyes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by natbla
    I am pro-training wheels simply because the joy of biking is only instilled by the ease of pedaling for the bike.
    I think I will have to disagree with that. When I first got a bike, I didn't have training wheels. Facing the challenge was where much of my motivation came from. Every time I could get one more pedal stroke before losing my balance, it felt so amazing, that sense of accomplishment (as stupid as that might sound). That's where my joy of biking was instilled. I think with training wheels I might have gotten bored, and only prolonged the learning. I don't have kids now, but when I do, I'll make them learn the old-fashioned way.

  13. #13
    Senior Member natbla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BurnMyEyes View Post
    I think I will have to disagree with that. When I first got a bike, I didn't have training wheels. Facing the challenge was where much of my motivation came from. Every time I could get one more pedal stroke before losing my balance, it felt so amazing, that sense of accomplishment (as stupid as that might sound). That's where my joy of biking was instilled. I think with training wheels I might have gotten bored, and only prolonged the learning. I don't have kids now, but when I do, I'll make them learn the old-fashioned way.
    As this isn't my thread and its been clear from reading various posts that many people have very strong feelings about training wheels vs. no training wheel. I'm going to respond but hopefully not have this turn into a "my view is better" argument.

    I think we both can agree that what ever allows any individual child to get exited to the point they overcome the frustration of falling over and not going forward as quickly or as successfully as they want is key to helping them become life-long riders.

    I can only speak from my own experience as a kid (to long ago to really trust) and that as a parent with a 4 year old daughter. My daughter (Lauren) is not inclined to do things she doesn't have immediate success with or things that she is afraid of having something painful or bad happen to her. It is also very important to her to be part of what ever is going on activity wise or she ends up throwing in the towel before she has a chance to figure out if she is having fun. So the key piece for her was being able to get on the bike and go as soon as she could figure out how to push the pedals in a circle. Training wheels provided her this opportunity. She could be like her Daddy and Mommy on their bikes and that was important.

    The second hurdle for her was getting over falling down off the bike and getting hurt. She was not willing to go as any kind of speed needed to stay upright w/o training wheels for the better part of a year. IT was a little comical(though frustrating for me trying to ride/run w/her) because she was going faster up hill than downhill as a result of her fear of losing control and crashing.So again the training wheels let her get use to the speed and control until the point she was comfortable. It also minimized the number of falls that stalled her progress in gaining the biggest key - confidence.

    She had been confident in her riding since mid-spring, and having her bigger bike helped her keep up better and do more group rides w/ me and my wife. Lauren is a small/slight kid. She can barely hold her bigger bike upright unless she is braced right. Its the right dimensions for her but its jbeen a bit too hard to handle size wise for her until recently. The training wheels aloud her to use the bike even when she wasn't able to hold it up or balance due to the fact that she was either less or the same weight as the bike. She now to weight her bike by a few pounds and that matter in learning to ride. I used her older, smaller bike with a lower center of gravity to teach/help her learn to ride. I don't think she would have progressed as fast on the bigger bike once she was ready.

    Anyway, you can read the rest of my story about Lauren learning to ride in my other post. But give the specific needs of my daughter I'm glad she used the training wheels as long as she did because it gave her the confidence and positive experiences she needed to get to the point that she felt she was ready to ride w/o training wheel. After all it took me 3 weeks of her bugging me to take them off for me to her started riding w/o training wheels.

    As the fine print often reads - your experience may differ from that of the author's
    Last edited by natbla; 08-08-08 at 08:26 AM. Reason: fixed a typo

  14. #14
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    I tried to get my son to learn on a 16" bike... he would do OK for a bit, but then regress. He was scared of it.

    We got a balance bike and that helped him a bit. Then I stuck him on a borrowed little 12" girls' (!) bike, and he figured it out right away. So I think a smaller bike helps.
    I don't even use the offensive term "Fred." -- Sheldon "All Cyclists Are My Friends" Brown (1944-2008)

  15. #15
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    kids

    We really struggled with our daughter. All her classmates were buzzing the neighborhood, and she was simply too scared. Looking back I think some of it was simply waiting for her to mature.

    We used the advice on the top of this thread, and took her pedals off, and tought her to balance first. That really helped. But she was still scared of riding, only going about 50 feet, than stopping.

    We bought her a 7 speed 20" bike, lowered the seat, and geared it down. Than I finally stopped running beside her, and went and grabbed my bike. She started riding blocks at a time trying to keep up with me (of course went slow).

    She is now 10, and a 10 mile ride is not a big deal. She's still not nearly as athletic as her classmates, but knows how to handle light traffic, and pace her cadence on longer rides.

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