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Old 07-06-14, 06:01 PM   #1
PatrickGSR94
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How to transition 4 year old out of training wheels?

For Christmas this past year I got my son a 12" bike with training wheels, just a few days before he turned 4. Should have started earlier I guess. Anyway, I tried making it a balance bike first by removing the drivetrain and training wheels. He didn't really take to it at all. So I put the drivetrain and training wheels back on, yet he still didn't show much interest. Then suddenly on Easter weekend he decided to hop on the bike and pedal it all over the house. Since then he's been riding it pretty much every day, both inside the house and outside. Just recently he's really gotten to where he can power up some hills, and also able to work the coaster brake pretty well.

This weekend I got down a 16" bike with TW's at the store, and he hopped on it (with the seat low) and rode it around just fine. The seat on his 12" bike is at its maximum height right now. Unfortunately I can't afford another bike at the moment.

So today we went in the back yard on the grass and I tried taking off the TW's from his 12" bike, but of course he wasn't interested at all. I got home to get on the bike and I pushed him along for just a few feet, then he pushed the coaster brake and wanted to get off. He only wants to push the bike around while walking it, and lean it against stuff. So for now I just put the TW's back on.

How do I proceed here? Seems like I probably just need to take the TW's off, and if he wants to ride something he'll have to learn to ride it, and if not then he just won't have anything to ride.
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Old 07-06-14, 07:34 PM   #2
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Like most instruments of the devil, TW's are initially attractive. You have the right idea , take the pedals off, lower the seat and tell him if he wants to ride, he has to balance. He'll come around eventually.
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Old 07-06-14, 08:56 PM   #3
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My two year old was doing 4ft ramps at the skate park on his balance bike (pneumatic tires important here, the foam tires don't get traction.

at three he now has a 12 inch pedal bike but his body hasn't grown into it yet. To get the seat low enough for him to touch ground, he's sitting too low for the crank set. He rides both but insist on TW for the pedal bike. He has awesome balance but still doesn't have the coordination to pedal and balance. I also had to put the balance bike seat on the pedal bike because pedal bike seat was enormous for him.

best of luck to you! Love to hear how it works out for your boy.
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Old 07-06-14, 10:03 PM   #4
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Like most instruments of the devil, TW's are initially attractive. You have the right idea , take the pedals off, lower the seat and tell him if he wants to ride, he has to balance. He'll come around eventually.
I was thinking more of just take the TW off and say he has to balance AND pedal to ride it. I mean that's how my brother and I both learned in the 80's.
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Old 07-07-14, 08:28 AM   #5
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I was thinking more of just take the TW off and say he has to balance AND pedal to ride it. I mean that's how my brother and I both learned in the 80's.
"Hold and Launch" works too. Did that with my two oldest.
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Old 07-07-14, 10:38 AM   #6
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For my kids, I kept bending the training wheels up a little more each session until I could see that there were touching the ground less and less. I then took them off and just they went bonkers for awhile and did not want to try to ride without them. A few patience testing parking lot outings of running along behind them while holding the seat was all it took to give them a sense of balance and then they were off. They would keep saying to not let go and were horrified but also elated when I told them that I had already let go the minute that they got going.
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Old 07-07-14, 03:08 PM   #7
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They have nice kid size cycling gloves now to minimize the road rash we all got learning as kids.
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Old 07-07-14, 07:05 PM   #8
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I didn't push my kids. My oldest just rode until his training wheels were bent and not doing much good. I asked if he wanted to try them off, he said yes and just went. My younger son saw this and wanted his off too. He wasn't really ready and it took about a week for him to ride on his own.
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Old 07-07-14, 07:13 PM   #9
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Well my son suddenly asked me to try riding w/o TW's with me holding him. So I happily obliged. Pushed him along in the back yard and it's apparent he has zero balance. He also wasn't pedaling much, either. Not sure how long this is going to take. Later this evening he wanted me to put the TW's back on, but I said no that we're not going to keep taking them off and putting them back on. He's just going to have to learn to go without the TW's from here on out.
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Old 07-08-14, 07:48 AM   #10
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Well my son suddenly asked me to try riding w/o TW's with me holding him. So I happily obliged. Pushed him along in the back yard and it's apparent he has zero balance. He also wasn't pedaling much, either. Not sure how long this is going to take. Later this evening he wanted me to put the TW's back on, but I said no that we're not going to keep taking them off and putting them back on. He's just going to have to learn to go without the TW's from here on out.

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Old 07-08-14, 07:55 AM   #11
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Not sure how to encourage him to actually pedal so I'm not just pushing him along. Also it's super hard on my back reaching all the way down to the saddle on a 12" back. I remember it being much easier when I was helping my brother, but then again I was probably 8 and him 5, and he was on a 16" bike. I wasn't having to bend down back then.
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Old 07-08-14, 07:59 AM   #12
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Not sure how to encourage him to actually pedal so I'm not just pushing him along. Also it's super hard on my back reaching all the way down to the saddle on a 12" back. I remember it being much easier when I was helping my brother, but then again I was probably 8 and him 5, and he was on a 16" bike. I wasn't having to bend down back then.
Hand on shoulder and yell "Pedal!!" while running. A slight downhill is best. If (when) he falls over because he didn't pedal you can remind him then that he has to keep pedaling or he'll fall over. They catch on pretty quick at that point.
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Old 07-08-14, 08:00 AM   #13
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I kept raising the training wheels on my son's bike but he just kept leaning further and further sideways as he rode, even though they were so high they were causing him to fall over at times. I figured out that (at least for him) training wheels don't work as intended: rather than learning to balance and having the wheels there as a safety catch, they just foster reliance on them.

At some point my son asked me to take them off. I think he was about 4 1/2 years old at that time. Once I did I refused to put them back on. My wife or I would run behind to steady him but again he would just rely on us to hold him up. Finally we just let him slowly work it out on his own. He struggled for about a week trying to learn to balance. I remember it was a Thursday when it clicked. By the end of that day he could ride most of a block without falling over.

Once he found a little bit of success it drove him to keep working at it. Four days later he went on a 16 mile trail ride with me and didn't dump it a single time.
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Old 07-08-14, 08:10 AM   #14
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Not sure how to encourage him to actually pedal so I'm not just pushing him along. Also it's super hard on my back reaching all the way down to the saddle on a 12" back. I remember it being much easier when I was helping my brother, but then again I was probably 8 and him 5, and he was on a 16" bike. I wasn't having to bend down back then.
Don't worry about pedaling at first. Ideally, find a driveway, path, etc. with a gentle, short decline and have him push himself off and try to balance that way. That teaches not only balancing, but gets him introduced to the concept of handling the bike. Once he can handle the bike, put the pedals back on and have him push himself off and eventually start pedaling short distances. Once kids get it, they get it and lose the fear relatively quickly.

I'd never tried this method before until we did it with our oldest. I learned the old, ineffective "hold on at the back and let go" method, but it's really not optimal for a number of reasons.
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Old 07-08-14, 09:45 AM   #15
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Hand on shoulder and yell "Pedal!!" while running. A slight downhill is best. If (when) he falls over because he didn't pedal you can remind him then that he has to keep pedaling or he'll fall over. They catch on pretty quick at that point.
I just know that if he falls over he'll probably just refuse to get on it again, at least for awhile. Will give it a try, though.

He's also starting swimming lessons for 2 weeks coming up on Monday.
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Old 07-08-14, 10:45 AM   #16
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Why rush it? I'd recommend making it a balance bike again and let him learn some balance first before throwing it all at him. Let him have some success 1st. My kid can do 7 mile rides on his balance bike.

[video=youtube_share;z-DvAlkw8lM]http://youtu.be/z-DvAlkw8lM[/video]

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Old 07-08-14, 12:06 PM   #17
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Any other kids around? IMO it's peer pressure that's the single biggest player in finally losing the training wheels.
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Old 07-08-14, 03:07 PM   #18
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There are a few other bike riding kids in our neighborhood but we don't know them.
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Old 07-09-14, 08:46 AM   #19
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I just know that if he falls over he'll probably just refuse to get on it again, at least for awhile. Will give it a try, though.

He's also starting swimming lessons for 2 weeks coming up on Monday.
You can run along with a light touch on the shoulder to see that he's at least trying to balance.

I'd always made them get right back on after a fall- like within a minute. Not giving time for a kid to dwell on his boo-boos is really necessary IMO.
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Old 07-09-14, 02:56 PM   #20
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What I really want is folding pedals - for kids bikes.

This would be brilliant and completely remove the need for training wheels (which doesn't exist now, but still).

Would be very easy to make, but as far as I can tell, they don't (yet) exist.
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Old 07-11-14, 08:00 AM   #21
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Don't worry about pedaling at first. Ideally, find a driveway, path, etc. with a gentle, short decline and have him push himself off and try to balance that way. That teaches not only balancing, but gets him introduced to the concept of handling the bike. Once he can handle the bike, put the pedals back on and have him push himself off and eventually start pedaling short distances. Once kids get it, they get it and lose the fear relatively quickly.

I'd never tried this method before until we did it with our oldest. I learned the old, ineffective "hold on at the back and let go" method, but it's really not optimal for a number of reasons.
This is what worked for my children. I was amazed at how painless it was compared to traditional teaching.

Here is the key: Take pedaling out of the equation. It is a distraction from focusing on balance. Find a big parking lot with a very gentle slope. It doesn't take much slope at all. Have them ride down the slope with no training wheels. If they need to use their feet to prevent from falling so be it. You will be shocked at how quickly they learn this way. It took all of a half an hour or so for my boys to ride their bikes with no training wheels using this method - and this was after months and months with training wheels and several days of pushing them from behind with no training wheels.
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Old 10-06-14, 02:23 AM   #22
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Definitely try a bike camp or other group training activity that might be offered in your area. They could be a week long, half day or full day during the summer. My daughter was off training wheels and pedaling on the second day. Peer pressure is your friend. Sure her shins look like she was rock climbing for a week, but she finished out the week and came back for a second. I had bought a 'Balance Buddy' to get ready to train her myself, but the camp took care of that for me!
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Old 10-06-14, 05:58 AM   #23
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Just got my four year old riding. He's never ridden a bike with training wheels and was very good at balancing on his bike with no pedals.

We were riding at the beach and he was complaining that he was too slow. Lowered the seat on his sister's bike, put him on, and with a push he was off and riding.

He could have done it at 3, but he didn't want to.

So: (1), ditch training wheels, (2) they'll do it when they're ready.
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Old 10-06-14, 12:09 PM   #24
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Yeah we tried to do a family ride a few weeks ago with his current 12" bike with TW's, and he complained that the bike was too slow and too little. I totally agree. Would love to get him a 16" bike now, but I think Christmas would be a more appropriate time.

I'm thinking when he does move up to the 16" bike I'll go ahead and try to get him going without the TW's on it.
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Old 10-06-14, 03:51 PM   #25
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I think Grant Petersen said it best, in essay #10 ("Paddling beats pedaling") of Just Ride. Remove the pedals, lower the seat, and let the kid learn balance on his terms, on his timetable, without him (or you) having to coordinate a number of things at once and worry about falling.
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