Instant Competence

We purchased a bicycle for my now six year old son a couple of years ago. To be honest, he hadn’t shown much interest in it until recently. All of his friends used scooters to get around, and our son got quite good at getting to where he wanted to go via scooter.

Recently Mom decided to press the issue a bit. I got out his bike, gave it the once-over and pronounced it as being street ready, and he got started with it. And all was fine until…

The day I first took off the training wheels. He refused to ride the thing. But did I put them back on? Absolutely not!

Instead, I took off the pedals and lowered the seat a bit, which allowed him to push himself with his feet. Lots of small children do that here in Germany; in fact, his little sister has just such a bike (it has no pedals and no chain).

So he rode around on that for a few days, then started pushing himself faster and faster, then started picking his feet up as he was coasting…

Which was the answer we were looking for. This experience taught him how to balance himself without the pedals. So when I put the pedals back on today, he took right off and rode the thing like he had been doing it for months.

Of course, we now need to teach him to ride safely (but thankfully he’s a good boy and the lines of communication are open).

There was one minor glitch, however. At first, when I put the pedals back on (it was actually his idea; he asked me to put them back on), he was having trouble and was getting a bit frustrated. But just as soon as I told him that it was a “practice session” and that it was OK if he didn’t get the hang of it today, he immediately relaxed and took off pedaling.

The lesson? If there is one, pressure probably isn’t a good way to get small children to learn and perform.

If this post helped you teach your child how to ride their bike (or if it helped you in any other way), please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

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