I’m not an expert on much of anything. You’d think that a person in my situation would have at least some plausible pieces of advice for potty training, organizational wizardry, or how to survive being stuck in a Six Flags parking lot for five hours after watching Fourth of July fireworks (ok, my advice WATCH FROM THE SIDE OF THE ROAD).
But, ask me about teaching a child to ride a two wheel bike. . .I’m your mom.
As of last month, we have sent seven children pedaling off into the sunset on their two wheelers. All of mine were riding two wheelers by the time they were four, most by the time they were three and a half.
I’m not bragging because I’ve done literally nothing to teach them. THEY TEACH THEMSELVES. Crazy, I know. This is sorta the montessori method of teaching a child to ride a bike.
The most important thing for you as a parent to do is to ditch the training wheels. Don’t use them. THROW THEM IN THE TRASH. Instead, buy a balance bike, which is a bike without pedals.
We think that the most difficult thing for a child to do is pedal. Actually, the most difficult thing for a child to learn is balance. Our first balance bike was a used wooden Skuut that I bought second hand from another mother of multiples who used it for her autistic son. And, at first NO ONE wanted to try it. But, gradually each of them gave it a try. . .not going very far. . .falling. . .and then. . .
. . .they would excel at pushing off with their feet and giving the bike some speed, and then lifting their feet inches above the ground.
When they could push off and lift their feet and go a few yards. . .stop and do it again, I’d convince them to just try the bike with pedals. Hesitantly they’d get on the two wheel bike WITH pedals, making me PROMISE to not let go. Instead I’d give them a little push and stand still, yelling, “PEDAL!” and they’d ride away from me. It happened EVERY SINGLE TIME. I think Will was the one child who just hopped on the two wheel bike and before I could even get behind him for that push, rode down the driveway.
Of course there is a parenting lesson here: the children needed to learn how to balance on their own and at even the tender age of three and a half they figured it out. Maybe it was even easier to figure out so young because their center of gravity is a little closer to the ground than when they are six or seven. The hard part for parents when the child gets on the real bike is giving that little push to get them started and then. . . letting go.
We have to give them that nudge (at first) to get them started. . .trust that they’ve figured out the balancing. . .be okay with a possible fall. And just stand back.