A Call for Help – Bike Riding 101

9.jpg“I look at him and I’m so amazed. I’m so proud and then so afraid, that the apple didn’t fall quite far enough from the tree. I look at him and I see me” –Travis Tritt

Alright blogging community..I need your help. Tonight we began the process of teaching my 6 year old to ride a bike without training wheels. Now before you rush to comment and give advice, please note the lyrics quoted above. For those that don’t know “him” or “me” let me give you some context. “Me” is headstrong, stubborn, sensitive and easily frustrated when I don’t pick things up quickly. “Me” also has a very, very short attention span (what were we talking about again?).

Unfortunately, “Him” is just like “me”.

So now you know your audience. Here’s what I need. I need some guidance how to speed past that learning curve and jump straight into riding like a champ. Our first attempts tonight didn’t go so well. I am willing to admit that I have even “googled this” (see results here, here and here). While all of those are valuable, I need a “feet on the streets” report from the people I have come to value and respect. So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is this –

Can you give advice on how to teach “him” and “me” how to ride a bike without training wheels?


68 Replies to “A Call for Help – Bike Riding 101”

  1. Mary

    Same here!! One of the training wheels broke so it is learn to ride or don’t ride at all. We tried last summer but with no success. I think because I gave up, not him. I don’t like seeing my kids struggle with something. I have to step back and sometimes let them fail so they learn to get back up on their own. Good luck!!!!

  2. Aaron

    Russell – enjoy that brother. It goes too fast.

    Mary – Those were my words exactly. All of our training wheels are broken too so it’s learn to ride or don’t ride at all. Good point on watching them get back up on their own.

    Clay – Probably the more loaded words in the english language…”let go dad”. I’ll swing by Sams Club tonight and get some bulk TP 🙂

  3. momlovesbeingathome

    I think one of the most important things about teaching a child to ride a bike is to do it before they have a huge fear of falling off. The older a child gets the harder that is. My son didn’t learn how until he was 7 or 8 I think (sorry, I can’t remember!!) because he was afraid and I wish we hadn’t let him go so long. Younger kids usually have no fear and they’ll try anything. Once they get old enough to understand they could fall over and get hurt they aren’t as anxious to try it! 🙂 I don’t think there are any tips or tricks to give – you just have to put them on there and go for it. I will say that kids usually manage to pick it up pretty quickly if you just make them keep going and don’t let them give up. When we taught our son we just decided it was time and we weren’t stopping until he learned. It only took an afternoon or so for him to get it and then he was flying all around the place! haha! Have fun with your son! (and plan on getting lots of running in when you do it. 🙂 )

  4. Erik Lane

    Repetition, Repetition, Repetition. Keep at it. We always start with me running behind them while still holding the seat and then let go as they seem to have control. Keep at it and the longer they stay up will increase. It may take 20 minutes or 3 days.

    Here is another thing we ran up against. How do they get started when they’re not tall enough to reach the ground while sitting on the seat? We set them up next to the curb, showed them how to get the pedal opposite the curb in “starting position” while using one leg to lean on the curb, then start pedaling and jump on. This was the toughest for us since it required more coordination. We practiced it 2 or 3 nights for an hour and then its all up to them and their desire to do it by themselves. With my son, he didn’t have much desire after we stopped practicing until he saw the other kids in the neighborhood riding around. Next thing you know he was out practicing by himself and finally picked it up.

    Good luck and God Bless!

  5. Grits n' Grace

    Erik offers the tried and true solution. All at onece, it just clicks for them and they’re off! Oddly enough, or maybe not, learning to STOP can be just as difficult for them. A few garage doors and mail boxes later, they learn that the brakes are a good thing!

    David.

  6. Grits n' Grace

    Erik offers the tried and true solution. All at onece, it just clicks for them and they’re off! Oddly enough, or maybe not, learning to STOP can be just as difficult for them. A few garage doors and mail boxes later, they learn that the brakes are a good thing!

    David.

  7. Grits n' Grace

    Erik offers the tried and true solution. All at onece, it just clicks for them and they’re off! Oddly enough, or maybe not, learning to STOP can be just as difficult for them. A few garage doors and mail boxes later, they learn that the brakes are a good thing!

    David.

  8. Grits n' Grace

    Erik offers the tried and true solution. All at onece, it just clicks for them and they’re off! Oddly enough, or maybe not, learning to STOP can be just as difficult for them. A few garage doors and mail boxes later, they learn that the brakes are a good thing!

    David.

  9. Grits n' Grace

    Erik offers the tried and true solution. All at onece, it just clicks for them and they’re off! Oddly enough, or maybe not, learning to STOP can be just as difficult for them. A few garage doors and mail boxes later, they learn that the brakes are a good thing!

    David.

  10. Grits n' Grace

    Erik offers the tried and true solution. All at onece, it just clicks for them and they’re off! Oddly enough, or maybe not, learning to STOP can be just as difficult for them. A few garage doors and mail boxes later, they learn that the brakes are a good thing!

    David.

  11. Grits n' Grace

    Erik offers the tried and true solution. All at onece, it just clicks for them and they’re off! Oddly enough, or maybe not, learning to STOP can be just as difficult for them. A few garage doors and mail boxes later, they learn that the brakes are a good thing!

    David.

  12. Grits n' Grace

    Erik offers the tried and true solution. All at onece, it just clicks for them and they’re off! Oddly enough, or maybe not, learning to STOP can be just as difficult for them. A few garage doors and mail boxes later, they learn that the brakes are a good thing!

    David.

  13. Grits n' Grace

    Erik offers the tried and true solution. All at onece, it just clicks for them and they’re off! Oddly enough, or maybe not, learning to STOP can be just as difficult for them. A few garage doors and mail boxes later, they learn that the brakes are a good thing!

    David.

  14. Grits n' Grace

    Erik offers the tried and true solution. All at onece, it just clicks for them and they’re off! Oddly enough, or maybe not, learning to STOP can be just as difficult for them. A few garage doors and mail boxes later, they learn that the brakes are a good thing!

    David.

  15. Aaron

    “Moms” – You are so right. I was actually afraid that we missed our window of opportunity with “the boy”. My wife and I were talking about it last night and I brought up our middle daughter (whom we affectionately call “crash”). My wife noted that she will probably be much easier as she has no fear of falling or going all out when trying things. My son tends to survey each situation before trying or risking anything.

    Erik – Great advice. You are totally right about the neighborhood thing too. I know once he sees his friends riding around, it won’t be long before he is ready to give this thing his full attention.

    David – I didn’t even think about stopping! So I have that going for me…which is nice. As they said in Jurassic Park…”Nature will find a way” 🙂

  16. Grits n' Grace

    Neither one of our kids had any “real” interest in learning to ride at first. In fact, I used to sit in wonderment as I watched my son running along side of his friends that were riding. I still laugh about that.

    We tried until we were blue in the face with my daughter. One of her little friends said a few magic words and sprinkled some fairy dust on her (metaphorically speaking) and she was off!

    Take heart, dad. Before you know it, you’ll be on family bike rides.

  17. Grits n' Grace

    Neither one of our kids had any “real” interest in learning to ride at first. In fact, I used to sit in wonderment as I watched my son running along side of his friends that were riding. I still laugh about that.

    We tried until we were blue in the face with my daughter. One of her little friends said a few magic words and sprinkled some fairy dust on her (metaphorically speaking) and she was off!

    Take heart, dad. Before you know it, you’ll be on family bike rides.

  18. Grits n' Grace

    Neither one of our kids had any “real” interest in learning to ride at first. In fact, I used to sit in wonderment as I watched my son running along side of his friends that were riding. I still laugh about that.

    We tried until we were blue in the face with my daughter. One of her little friends said a few magic words and sprinkled some fairy dust on her (metaphorically speaking) and she was off!

    Take heart, dad. Before you know it, you’ll be on family bike rides.

  19. Grits n' Grace

    Neither one of our kids had any “real” interest in learning to ride at first. In fact, I used to sit in wonderment as I watched my son running along side of his friends that were riding. I still laugh about that.

    We tried until we were blue in the face with my daughter. One of her little friends said a few magic words and sprinkled some fairy dust on her (metaphorically speaking) and she was off!

    Take heart, dad. Before you know it, you’ll be on family bike rides.

  20. Grits n' Grace

    Neither one of our kids had any “real” interest in learning to ride at first. In fact, I used to sit in wonderment as I watched my son running along side of his friends that were riding. I still laugh about that.

    We tried until we were blue in the face with my daughter. One of her little friends said a few magic words and sprinkled some fairy dust on her (metaphorically speaking) and she was off!

    Take heart, dad. Before you know it, you’ll be on family bike rides.

  21. Grits n' Grace

    Neither one of our kids had any “real” interest in learning to ride at first. In fact, I used to sit in wonderment as I watched my son running along side of his friends that were riding. I still laugh about that.

    We tried until we were blue in the face with my daughter. One of her little friends said a few magic words and sprinkled some fairy dust on her (metaphorically speaking) and she was off!

    Take heart, dad. Before you know it, you’ll be on family bike rides.

  22. Grits n' Grace

    Neither one of our kids had any “real” interest in learning to ride at first. In fact, I used to sit in wonderment as I watched my son running along side of his friends that were riding. I still laugh about that.

    We tried until we were blue in the face with my daughter. One of her little friends said a few magic words and sprinkled some fairy dust on her (metaphorically speaking) and she was off!

    Take heart, dad. Before you know it, you’ll be on family bike rides.

  23. Grits n' Grace

    Neither one of our kids had any “real” interest in learning to ride at first. In fact, I used to sit in wonderment as I watched my son running along side of his friends that were riding. I still laugh about that.

    We tried until we were blue in the face with my daughter. One of her little friends said a few magic words and sprinkled some fairy dust on her (metaphorically speaking) and she was off!

    Take heart, dad. Before you know it, you’ll be on family bike rides.

  24. Grits n' Grace

    Neither one of our kids had any “real” interest in learning to ride at first. In fact, I used to sit in wonderment as I watched my son running along side of his friends that were riding. I still laugh about that.

    We tried until we were blue in the face with my daughter. One of her little friends said a few magic words and sprinkled some fairy dust on her (metaphorically speaking) and she was off!

    Take heart, dad. Before you know it, you’ll be on family bike rides.

  25. Grits n' Grace

    Neither one of our kids had any “real” interest in learning to ride at first. In fact, I used to sit in wonderment as I watched my son running along side of his friends that were riding. I still laugh about that.

    We tried until we were blue in the face with my daughter. One of her little friends said a few magic words and sprinkled some fairy dust on her (metaphorically speaking) and she was off!

    Take heart, dad. Before you know it, you’ll be on family bike rides.

  26. Clay

    If you get real frustrated you could pull out the “when I was your age”. I always turn to shame as my last resort. I think it has long term pay-offs. I apologize for the silliness. Maybe just stick with the Charmin’.

  27. Dad

    Not sure you remember when we lived on the “hill” and you were just off the training wheels, going down the street trying to figure out how to stop and taking out a tree. Remember your sister has some practice, what with the 3 boys.
    I notice Taylor still has hers but she is checking out the ole skateboard already.
    Patience my son 🙂

  28. Your Sis

    Those last 3 words from dad is right! Let’s see, all 4 are now on 2 wheels…. and, all 4 did it at completely different ages. When they were wanting to learn, they just did it. Take “him” and “me” to a big parking lot (I was lucky, mine was in my back yard 🙂 ) and let “him” play around with it and “me” just run with him……It only took the first time for each of them ~ the key was THEY wanted to do and that awesome parking lot!!! If he doesn’t do it, just have him come back next week. No big words of wisdom, just that they are ready when they are ready.

  29. faithwalk

    With lots of love reassurance and patience Aaron. Our kids all learned at different ages, the youngest took his own training wheels off at three, and started riding ( he also has had a dozen ER visits ), the oldest was about six and cautious.
    They are all different; just keep running beside him until he’s ready to fly.
    One of these days you’ll look back and wonder when did that happen?, it goes by so fast!

    I’m off to Scotland tomorrow, so I may not be around blogging for a while. But I’ll be praying for you while we’re away! Hope the bike riding goes well!

    Blessings to you always,

    Susan

  30. Aaron

    Dad – For the life of me, I couldn’t remember learning to ride a bike. I remember several of the crashes. Including the one off of our homemade ramp the day before class pictures. The large scrape on my face and the sprained wrist were also reminders that day 🙂 Great advice and wisdom. Patience will be the key…mine and his. Love ya!

    Sis – I knew you would come through for me. It’s like the day I called you and said “how do you do this? I’m not sure I can get through the terrible 2’s”! We do have a lot of paved real estate around this place so we may just have to “let that pony run” and see what happens. By the way, his only alternative to learning right now is Taylor’s old pink training wheels. 🙂

    Susan – Scotland! Wow. I should be the one praying for you!! Thanks for your blessings and comments. Have a safe trip. I’ll miss your comments, but I’m sure we will hear from you when you return. Be safe and God bless.

  31. Joni

    I was deathly afraid of learning as a child and told my parents I would walk everywhere! I never had training wheels. Had to go right to riding. You could do what my brothers and sisters did. Put me on the bike at the top of a sloped sidewalk and pushed. Its was ride or die! I’m still in therapy. 🙂

  32. Aaron Berry

    Agree with others that kids are all individual and will do in their own time/way. You definitely have to be flexible and go with the flow. We’ve got twin boys who have just turned 2. One is off his training wheels, the other hasn’t quite figured out/isn’t that interested in how to pedal yet and prefers to be pushed! There are a few practical steps you can take though:
    1. Bend or adjust the training wheels up slightly – just a little at first. Explain that he should be aiming to avoid riding on the little wheels.
    2. As he gets used to it, gradually keep on moving them. The bike will become less stable so don’t run ahead of his confidence.
    3. When he’s mainly riding on the rubber it’s time to take them off.
    4. If you can keep up, run alongside holding his top rather than the seat (that puts him in control of the bike, and you can lift him up if he starts to crash). If he’s got the balance, let go but continue running alongside.
    Good luck!

  33. Modern Dadfare

    Thanks for this great post!

    I have a four year old who tears a strip up our street on his bike (with training wheels) and I’ve been wondering how (and when) to transition him off the training wheels.

    Lots of great ideas here.

    I know personally, my parents got me a new bike with no training wheels that was a little bit big for me and let me wear out the training wheeled bicycle. Once it got too small or too ricketty, they reasoned, I would make the switch. Sure enough I did, I was about 6 years old.

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