Teaching kids to ride a bike - how the HECK am I supposed to do this?

I have 3 daughters, ages 10, 8 1/2, and 6. We (Mrs. KVS and I) are trying to teach them to ride bicycles. I can ride, as can Mrs. KVS. How do we teach children to ride? The two younger ones currently have a 2 wheeler with one traing wheel, and they are slowly learning to balance. Our oldest has a lack of confidence problem already, and teaching her to do this seems to make it worse.

I keep telling her that once she gets to a certain speed (and I let go of the bike) that she needs to keep pedaling to maintain her balance, but she gets frustrated and falls down.

Any suggestions, anyone?

Wow. I cannot believe it, but a topic that I can actually offer some valuable content on.

Here is how I taught my younger sister.

Every time she got going, and realized that she was riding, she would freak out, stop pedaling, and fall over. Sounds very much like what you are going through. I would run along, holding on to the back of the seat, and as soon as I let go, she would lose it.

Well, in hindsight, it seems obvious.

Don’t let them know that you have let go. Keep running along, encouraging them to keep going, and simply let go, but do not drop your arm (because she will likely see the difference in posture)

About the time that she gets truly exasperated, and says, “I don’t think I will ever get this…” Inform them that they have been riding on their own for half an hour.

At least in my experience, this has worked like a charm, and my sister still to this day tells people how I “fooled” her into riding a bike.

I hope this helps.

Hears my contribution - Don’t teach them on a sidewalk. Go to a nice big parking lot where they don’t have to worry about steering. You probably didn’t learn to walk on a balance beam.

Well, you could do like my dad did with me- Run alongside, let go and have me fall on him breaking his watch and ripping his clothes.

shrug Worked for me. :wink:

Try pushing them in to the pool :smiley:

My dad did what Parrothead suggests, and it worked with all five of his kids.

He actually positioned himself behind us, holding on to the back of the seat. Eventually he would let go and let us keep rolling. We were so busy concentrating, we never looked back and just assumed he was there.

Then, we would say something, get no reply, look back, see him standing 50 feet behind us, we’d panic and fall over.

But, with practice, we got the hang of it.

Or you could do it like how my grandpa “taught” me to ride my bike. I had been using training wheels for forever and wouldn’t switch because I was afraid. He pulled out an old rusty two-wheeler from the garage, put me on it, took me out to the big backyard, and gave me a great shove. I shrieked and started madly pedaling, because I was going so fast that it was either pedal or fall off and die (okay well maybe just get a bruise or two–I was melodramatic at that age). 'Course, I’m the type that does well in do-or-die situations, unfortunately for my sanity…

I’ve read quite a few discussions on this topic. The consensus these days is that training wheels are useless, because a bike with training wheels doesn’t handle like a bike at all. The other important point is that balancing and pedaling are two separate activities, and should be taught separately.

So what you do is this: remove the pedals from the bikes. Take off the training wheels as well. Just let them have fun using the pedal-less bike as a kick scooter. At first t hey’ll keep one foot on the ground all the time, but soon they’ll learn to balance and coast. THEN attach the pedals and let them figure out how to pedal. There’s even a product called Like-a-bike which is a toy pedal-less bike to teach young children how to balance a bike.

By the way, if you decide to remove the pedals yourself, keep in mind that the left one has a reverse thread.

My Dad just let me learn on my own. He used the method Parrothead described. But it didn’t so anything for me. They gave up and I ended up teaching myself.

They did the same thing with driving. I would be taken to a large empty parking lot and he would get out of the car and set up a lawn chair to sit on. He let me figure it out on my own. It was so much easier taht way.

no one even bothered to teach me. just give them a bike and let them try to ride.

and training wheels do help in my opinion. maybe not physically. but it can add some sense of balance or protection to the rider.

Start with two training wheels on, touching the ground on either side, so the kids can concentrate on pedalling and braking. Let them master that. They can also do it solo, so your kids won’t feel like they’re being pressured.

Then adjust the training wheels so they don’t touch the ground. Leave both on, but adjust 'em so they’re about 3 cm above the ground on either side, so they can lean a touch.

And the bike has to be the right size.

First: teach 'em how to stop (ah, the joys of skidding a bike).

Second: Second, tell 'em that the faster you go, the more the bike wants to stay upright.

Third: You’ve gotta push them and run and run and run, then keep your hand on them to help balance and run and run and run, then ease your hand off and run and run and run.

Move to an area with lots of huge hills. This’ll end the problem :smiley:

One of my relatives set up in his back yard a huge clothesline at chest level, so his kids could hold onto the rope with one hand and bike up and down the cord getting a feel for how they could bicycle.

We are going through this right now with our daughters, ages 8 and 11. We didn’t have much opportunity to teach them when they were younger. The last two spring/summers, we took them out to a parking lot and let them try. Confidence was the main problem. This year, in fact just last weekend, we gave the 11-year-old a push and off she went. It was a matter of her having enough confidence in her body/balance/whatever that she just didn’t have at a younger age.

The younger one is still struggling, but this is what we have been doing–we take her onto our lawn…it has a slight slope to it. One of us stands at the top of the slope (and again, this is a very slight slope) and runs behind her, letting go when she seems to be balanced. The other of us “catches” her. She seems more confident on the grass than in the street.

Anyway, good luck. And as my 11-year-old can prove…when they are old enough, they will just do it. And be sure they have helmets on.

I had training wheels, and I was embarassed to death by them (this was only in second grade, btw). Plus, they don’t let you turn by leaning, which is how most adults turn.

I would’ve much rather had a trial by fire.

I agree with easy e. With training wheels, you steer a bicycle like a car. Then you find yourself on two wheels, try to steer the bike without leaning, and over the side you go.
I learned without training wheels, and it only took a few minutes of my older sister doing the “let go but make 'em think you’re still holding the bike” method for me to be able to ride away semi-confidently. My friends had training wheels for months and months, and didn’t have the confidence to have them taken off. I didn’t have any naturally superior riding skills than my friends, so I’m sure it was the training wheels which held their skill development back.

I grew up by the beach, but my father refused to let me have any inflatable “floaties” or water toys until I could swim [sub](by which time I was old enough that I didn’t want 'em so he could spend the money on beer. Cunning old bugger)[/sub]. It’s the same deal with training wheels, IMHO.

As a bicycle-shop owner (well, along with Mr. and his family) I can say that this is a tried and true method. We used this with my kids. My daughter learned to ride, using this method, when she was three.

What can I say…she is a genius.

And scr4, you have been added to my SDMB heroes list, simply because you always get into threads and write down EVERYTHING I was going to write, but much more coherently! Plus you live in Japan :slight_smile:

As someone who has lived through the “s/he’s learning to ride a bike” phase three times now, I’ll second what Dinsdale said about doing it in a parking lot. Find a nice big one, with no cars to bump into.

Also, second all the other voices saying “Training wheels are worse than useless”. The way to go is the hand on the back of the bike seat, trotting up and down for about 20 minutes, lots of encouragement, and suddenly, “By George, I think he’s got it!”

I’m guessing that your Ten, KVS, is expressing her anxiety about falling over, since she’s probably already realized that the faster you’re going, the harder you hit when you fall and the worse the resultant scrape. So her solution to this is to just not go fast at all. You let go of the bike, and instead of zooming off, she stops pedaling and racks it up in relatively safe slo-mo.

So invest in some knee and elbow pads for her.

Also, stock up on those big 4" x 4" Steri-Pads (and first aid tape, and a pair of scissors to cut the tape) for the inevitable elbow and knee scrapes when the kid turns out to not quite have it yet and racks it up. It’s always a huge shallow scrape at the side of the knee and elbow, and regular Band-Aids don’t work–they aren’t big enough, popping off as soon as the kid flexes the joint. You need a big Steri-Pad and about 12" of first aid tape.

Wash the ouchie, gently, under running water with a little soap (this will sting but hey, those are the breaks, and I use a tiny squirt of dish soap instead of trying to use bar soap–you want to avoid touching the ouchie), to get the grit out of it (“honey, we have to get the DIRT out of it…”) You can do the old-fashioned merthiolate/mercurochrome thing if you want, but here’s the most important part–LET IT AIR DRY BEFORE YOU PUT THE PAD OVER IT. Otherwise the next day you have the pad stuck to the ouchie, which HURTS to get it off (soak it off if you find yourself in this position).

Also, using that antibiotic ointment on a still-wet wound is actually counter-productive, as the wound won’t make a good hard healing scab if it’s shut off from the air by a layer of ointment. The next day you’ll have a sloppy, oozing mess instead of a good scab. So let it air-dry first. Also, squeeze the blob of ointment onto the pad, not onto the tender wound, which proposal invariably produces hysterics after already having gone through the traumatic “washing” experience (“don’t touch it, don’t touch it!”)