As spring descends upon us, it’s time to dust off your child’s bicycle and get busy riding. If you have a younger child who is still dependent on training wheels, this is a perfect time to teach them to ride without them.
Most kids will resist riding without them because they have become dependent on them and fear falling, or being unable to ride with their friends. Those are valid, understandable concerns. That’s where your parenting skills come in.
Teaching your child to ride without training wheels demands that you be part engineer and part life coach. You have to be able to figure out how far to take the process of removing the wheels and also how to properly motivate and encourage your child during this challenging physical time.
1. Know your child’s skill level
The most important part of this equation is knowing how comfortable and skillful your child is on a bike. If they struggle with riding on three or four wheels, it probably won’t be easier for them on two. Conversely, if your child is comfortable on three wheels and is riding easily with good speed, you might consider removing the extra wheel.
2. Discuss it
Have a conversation with your child about riding on two wheels. Explain to them that this isn’t a demand or a chore. It’s fun! It will enhance their bike-riding experience and will allow them to do more on their bicycle and be more adventurous.
3. Lift the training wheels
Before removing the wheels, try lifting the training wheels as high as they will go. What that does is allow your child to learn how to balance on two or three wheels when one or both training wheels come off the ground. It’s a good precursor to removing the wheels altogether.
4. Balance the bike
If you have the money, it might be good to invest in a relatively inexpensive balance bike. A balance bike does not have pedals and allows your child to glide or use their feet to gain momentum while they learn to balance like they will on a regular bike. This is a great first step to teaching your child how to balance.
5. Practice often
The best way to make sure your child is ready to ride without training wheels is to ride often. When you have the time on the weekends or in the evenings, suggest a bike ride with your child to show that you’re interested in riding together. If you make it a regular habit, you’ll likely see improvement in their riding skills over a short period of time.
6. Motivate them
You don’t want to compare your child to their peers, but your son or daughter will likely know who can ride a bike without training wheels and who can’t. You can think about possibly using that information as a motivator. Mention to them that their friends are riding without training wheels and they can do it, too!
7. Take them off
At some point, even if your kids are worried and concerned about what will happen when they get on a two-wheeler, you need to remove the training wheels and see how they do. If they’re scared, explain to them that they’ll be ok. Give them some time to adjust and if they don’t like it, don’t push them. You might even put the training wheels back on for a time. But getting the idea into their heads is an important first step.
8. Be there for them
Make sure your kids know that you’ve got their back and you’re rooting for them to succeed. And if they stumble and scrape their knee, you’ll be there for them the entire time.