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Helping an anxiety-prone child learn to ride a bike.


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I bought a new bike for dd9 this summer thinking it is really, really time she learned to ride independently--but so far we haven't made any progress. ds7 hopped on a bike and within 20 minutes was riding, but dd9 is my anxious child and she just can't get past the fear of falling--seems we've been working on this for years now. I've tried using a handle that attaches to the end of the bike so I could hold on and run with her, tried having her ride on the grass (so falls are softer)--basically, the minute I let go of the bike she stops riding.

 

How do I help her get past the fear long enough to realize she really can balance? If it weren't so hot I would bundle her into a couple of snowsuits for extra padding and tell her she can't get hurt so go ahead and fall:D

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Honestly? Let her keep the training wheels a little longer. Once she's comfy with the mechanics of biking, raise the training wheels just a smidge so that they don't touch the ground unless she wobbles. You can raise one side at a time if it makes her feel better. When she's comfortable at that level, raise them a bit more. Once she's pretty much balancing and not tilting to the side any (ie, the training wheels are never in use, even though still attached), take 'em off.

 

I'm sure this is not how experts would suggest, but it is what worked for my middle son who is anxious as well.

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My kids kept training wheels for a ridiculously long time. We live in the country on a gravel road, at the end of a BIG hill. There was no good place to learn to ride. One day, they wanted to and that was that. Put on training wheels, take them off when she wants to ride without them and she will.

 

btw my oldest is ASD and anxiety was a huge part of the problem.

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I bought a new bike for dd9 this summer thinking it is really, really time she learned to ride independently--but so far we haven't made any progress. ds7 hopped on a bike and within 20 minutes was riding, but dd9 is my anxious child and she just can't get past the fear of falling--seems we've been working on this for years now. I've tried using a handle that attaches to the end of the bike so I could hold on and run with her, tried having her ride on the grass (so falls are softer)--basically, the minute I let go of the bike she stops riding.

 

How do I help her get past the fear long enough to realize she really can balance? If it weren't so hot I would bundle her into a couple of snowsuits for extra padding and tell her she can't get hurt so go ahead and fall:D

 

Wow, I could have written this exact post! My dd is also 9yo, I bought her a new bike and she is very anxious about falling off.

 

What I have been doing is have her use it as a balance bike (although I have not taken off the pedals). I encourage her to try to push off and keep her feet off the ground as much as possible. I'm hoping she gets more confident in balancing before I take her to the grassy park to practice actually riding.

 

Not sure if that helps, but I want you to know your dd is not the only one struggling with this.:grouphug:

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My little cousin was 10 before she took off the training wheels (a year ago) but she is still shaky and wears helmet. knee pads, elbow pads, and bike gloves. VERY cautious.

 

On the other hand my DD was 4 when she started riding with no training wheels. And she flies around like nothing can hurt her LOL

 

It's just the different personnality of the child.

 

I agree with TheReader don't push her. It will make her even more nervous. Just stick with the training wheels (slowly moving them farther away from the ground) till she is ready :)

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You are doing it right, just keep at it. It is okay if it takes a long time.

 

My anxious dd rode on the lawn for.ev.er and it finally clicked for her after years of practice. I had almost given up - okay, truth be told, I had basically stopped thinking that it would ever happen. Here is the story of her persistence.

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Check out the REI website for advice on teaching kids to ride. I guarantee you it works.

 

When we got ds-then 7 a new bike without training wheels, it sat in the garage for a year because he was terrified. We took him out several times for the traditional run behind, let them fall thing and his fear only got worse.

 

Came across this advice and he was riding in 2 weeks w/o help from us:

 

Take the pedals off, lower the seat til feet are flat on ground. Let them use it like a balance bike to scoot around. As they are more comfortable, give challenges like how far can you go without feet touching, doing curves etc.

 

Then, put pedals back on, leave seat down. They will still need encouragement, but with the right incentive, eventually they will take off. For ds, it was having to attend cub scout bike rally and not wanting to admit he couldn't ride. He learned 24 hours before the event:tongue_smilie:

 

Once comfortable, raise the seat. The feeling of accomplishment for the ( and relief for you) is great!

 

Another friend of mine used a hilly parking lot and a big bribe. Good luck!

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Well, I was only 7, but I had the same problem riding a bike...because I did fall. Spectacularly. Giant gauze pads on the knees and elbows for a week. Could hardly bend them. I don't think the scars completely disappeared until I was 30. :lol:

 

I was a bit reluctant to try and get back on the horse, so to speak.

 

Peer pressure and the mocking from other children was what helped me. :D I learned in 15 minutes. "I can so ride a bike!" The mocking stopped. :lol:

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Check out the REI website for advice on teaching kids to ride. I guarantee you it works.

 

When we got ds-then 7 a new bike without training wheels, it sat in the garage for a year because he was terrified. We took him out several times for the traditional run behind, let them fall thing and his fear only got worse.

 

Came across this advice and he was riding in 2 weeks w/o help from us:

 

Take the pedals off, lower the seat til feet are flat on ground. Let them use it like a balance bike to scoot around. As they are more comfortable, give challenges like how far can you go without feet touching, doing curves etc.

 

Then, put pedals back on, leave seat down. They will still need encouragement, but with the right incentive, eventually they will take off. For ds, it was having to attend cub scout bike rally and not wanting to admit he couldn't ride. He learned 24 hours before the event:tongue_smilie:

 

Once comfortable, raise the seat. The feeling of accomplishment for the ( and relief for you) is great!

 

Another friend of mine used a hilly parking lot and a big bribe. Good luck!

 

I've seen the balance bike idea and wanted to try it, trouble is I can't seem to figure out how to take the pedals off...is there a tutorial somewhere?

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A too-small bike with pedals/cranks removed helped my dd get comfortable with balancing. She spent about equal time on her other bike, with training wheels. Once she decided that she was ready to have them off, she took off. I think she's crashed twice in the 3 years since then.

 

I think that her Razor scooter helped a lot, too. She loves that thing.

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I bought my kids a pair of extra-big overalls and made them put it on when they were just starting to learn (I'd taken the training wheels off long before). I held onto the back straps so they knew they would not fall on their heads. But they were 100% in control of the bike, so they learned what balance "felt like." Once they could somewhat balance, I would let go for a very brief moment on a regular basis - like I'd count "one, two, three, one, two, three" and let go while saying "three" just for that moment. It wasn't long enough for them to actually fall, but they could sense that they were "on their own" (and living through it). Gradually the "on your own" period increased until we were ready to try the "down the grassy hill" experience, and eventually we were ready for raw bribery. LOL. (I did more of this with my youngest; my oldest caught on pretty quickly.)

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Check out the REI website for advice on teaching kids to ride. I guarantee you it works.

 

When we got ds-then 7 a new bike without training wheels, it sat in the garage for a year because he was terrified. We took him out several times for the traditional run behind, let them fall thing and his fear only got worse.

 

Came across this advice and he was riding in 2 weeks w/o help from us:

 

Take the pedals off, lower the seat til feet are flat on ground. Let them use it like a balance bike to scoot around. As they are more comfortable, give challenges like how far can you go without feet touching, doing curves etc.

 

Then, put pedals back on, leave seat down. They will still need encouragement, but with the right incentive, eventually they will take off. For ds, it was having to attend cub scout bike rally and not wanting to admit he couldn't ride. He learned 24 hours before the event:tongue_smilie:

 

Once comfortable, raise the seat. The feeling of accomplishment for the ( and relief for you) is great!

 

Another friend of mine used a hilly parking lot and a big bribe. Good luck!

 

I've heard this works great! I wish I had known about it for my kiddos.

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Same here! I have two 9-year-olds that balk at riding a bike and I can't do the training wheels thing. . . they're too embarrassed in front of their friends.

 

I'm looking for ideas too! :bigear:

 

One friend suggested taking the pedals off and letting them push themselves around on the bike. Apparently it helped her kids develop a sense of balance and how the bike feels/works.

 

What I want to know: why isn't someone teaching "how to ride a bike" lessons?? :lol:

 

Alley

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Pedals screw in opposite of normal, so right is loose.

 

For ds, i held his seat so he could feel my hand on his tush. Then i moved my hand so i was still holding, but not where he could feel it. I let him go a few times after i felt he had the balance, but he didnt know. After a while i had someone stand straight ahead of him and catch him. That was the first time he knew i let go. He got on and rode all night.

 

Before all the pedaling, he did push with his feet for about 30 minutes and i saw that he had some balance. He has also been riding a razor scooter for quite a while, and i think that helped a lot.

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Check out the REI website for advice on teaching kids to ride. I guarantee you it works.

 

When we got ds-then 7 a new bike without training wheels, it sat in the garage for a year because he was terrified. We took him out several times for the traditional run behind, let them fall thing and his fear only got worse.

 

Came across this advice and he was riding in 2 weeks w/o help from us:

 

Take the pedals off, lower the seat til feet are flat on ground. Let them use it like a balance bike to scoot around. As they are more comfortable, give challenges like how far can you go without feet touching, doing curves etc.

 

Then, put pedals back on, leave seat down. They will still need encouragement, but with the right incentive, eventually they will take off. For ds, it was having to attend cub scout bike rally and not wanting to admit he couldn't ride. He learned 24 hours before the event:tongue_smilie:

 

Once comfortable, raise the seat. The feeling of accomplishment for the ( and relief for you) is great!

 

Another friend of mine used a hilly parking lot and a big bribe. Good luck!

 

:iagree: My two older kids learned this way; the younger ones are still using their bikes as "balance bikes" (we take the pedals off). They scoot around on the "balance bike" until they can push off and coast for a while. Then adding pedaling in is much easier. This method worked great for my anxious DD.

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I didn't have the great ideas here... so, when my youngest was too afraid and kept insisting that he wasn't interested in bikes, that he's just as well play with the scooter, we left him alone. A couple times a year we'd point out how his brothers enjoyed riding and would he like to learn, but no, he didn't want to. Finally, when he was 11 he decided he'd like to try and dh went out with him and had him riding that afternoon. He has aspergers and a great fear of being physically hurt... so, he had to really want to or it would have just not happened.

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