Why You Shouldn’t Use Training Wheels When Teaching Your Child To Ride And Why They May Be Holding Them Back
You’ve probably learned how to ride a bicycle using stabilizers, also called training wheels. You, as a parent are invested in teaching your child how to ride their bike. We’ll show you why training wheels can be a problem in your child’s transition from beginner to an avid rider. Also, how they can slow down progress and make it less fun. Continue reading to learn about the disadvantages of stabilizers as well as the best way for your child to start pedaling.
What is the point of training wheels?
Training wheels are still a popular way to teach kids how to ride a pushbike, but they are outdated and should be removed and start them on a balance bike. Here are the reasons why training wheels can be more dangerous than they are helpful.
How Counter Steering Works
Before we get into why you should not use training wheels, you should first understand how a bike turns. When a bike has training wheels it turns by turning left, when a bike has 2 wheels, they turn with counter steering. When you push left on a handlebar of a bike, the bike goes left, when you push right, it goes right. When you are on a bike with training wheels, you turn the opposite. You are actually teaching your children the opposite way to steer with training wheels. See the diagram to see how it works on motorbikes and push bikes.
1) Train Your Children to Ride A Balance Bike
Balance is one of the most difficult aspects of learning how to ride a bike. Children can learn balance at an early age by riding a bicycle. Training wheels can cause confusion later, because they reduce the child’s ability balance. A child can only steer a bike by leaning on the handlebars, not turning them. Training wheels will reverse this dynamic and cause bad habits to form that must be broken once they are removed.
Training wheels are a hindrance to progress. Training wheels may initially make it easier for children to balance when learning to pedal. However, the wheels can be removed and balancing can be reintroduced once the wheels are gone. This is similar to giving a toddler a walking stick when they learn to walk. It doesn’t help them reach their goal and can be a burden.
2) A Bad Experience on a Bicycle with Training Wheels
Your child can balance on a balance bike and control the bike. This ability is lost when they add training wheels, which can lead to frustration and a loss of all the joy that they had riding their balance bikes. Children may lose interest in their bikes as a result.
Training wheels can cause accidents on uneven terrain, and they are not compatible with hard surfaces. A good balance bike, on the other hand, can travel anywhere. This is your ultimate goal for your child’s mountain biking adventure.
The best case scenario is that your child can learn to pedal with training wheels, but must re-learn how to balance once the wheels have been removed. The worst case scenario is that your child stops riding because of the lack of progress or negative experiences. This is not what you want as a bike-loving parent.
Balance bikes are a better choice than training wheels. Children’s biking is the best! Balance bikes not only make it fun, but they also encourage confidence and help them develop their biking skills early on.
If your child has ridden a pedal bike as their first bike, you can remove the pedals and lower the saddle to create a balance bike that they can learn from.
Woom, Strider and Frog Bikes are the industry leaders in kids’ cycling, but they don’t offer training wheels. Derek Bouchard Hall, President of USA Cycling, stated that balance bikes have “made training wheels obsolete.” We are 100% in agreement.
Your child will find it easier to transition from a balance bicycle to pedaling.
4) The Path to Pedaling With Balance Bikes
Because they are fun and not about learning, balance bikes make a great starting point for raising pedal bike kids. Your child will likely be able to handle a 14-inch wheel bike by the time they are ready.
You can also help them steer, control their speed, and brake if they have a hand brake on their balance bikes.
Now it’s time for your child to learn how to pedal. This is how to teach your child how to ride a bicycle.
We love the Sustrans method for introducing pedals.
- To get used to the new size, let them take the pedals off the bike.
- Introduce the pedals one by one. They will be able to get used to the idea of having one pedal on their feet, while still being able to use their balance bike skills to glide.
- To prevent them from falling, keep your hands on their shoulders and support them when you pedal. You are not holding them up, but you are there to catch them if necessary. Encourage them to pedal a few times and then to use the brake to stop.
- Once you feel comfortable, pedal off. It will appear that they’ve traveled a lot further than they actually have. This boosts their confidence. They will soon be pedaling independently.
These tips will make the process fun and easy.
The dynamic of introducing pedals can change, as your child will face a new obstacle in their bike journey. These tips will help keep it simple and enjoyable.
- You can let go of any expectations regarding timelines and allow your child to work at his or her own pace. For a child learning a new skill, it can be frustrating to feel under pressure or frustrated by parents.
- You should learn in a safe place, on grass or tarmac. Make sure your child is equipped with the proper safety gear such as a helmet or even elbow & knee pads to avoid any inevitable bumps or scrapes.
- Learn from other children who pedal. By copying their peers, children can quickly learn skills.
- Do not crowd your child. Avoid securing your child’s handlebars and seat when they start pedaling. Instead, walk with them. This will reduce their ability to balance, and it will make the experience more stressful.
Share Your Experiences
Is your child able to ride on their own? We’d love to hear your opinions on stabilizers. The right approach will allow your child to move from riding a balance bike to pedaling safely, and foster a passion biking.