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Tips For Taking Off the Training Wheels

A Crash Course in Training-Wheel Removal

After my training wheels were removed, my dad taught me to ride my two-wheeler by running behind my bike, holding on, and telling me that he wouldn't let go. Except he did, and I fell. This happened a few times before balance took over and I pedaled away. I'm not mad at him (anymore) because it worked, but I'm taking a few other things into consideration with my kiddos these days. Read on for some tips on teaching your tot to ride a two-wheeler before removing the training wheels for good.

There Is No Perfect Age

Just because your son's friend is a BMX prodigy who's been riding without training wheels since he was 2 years old, it does not mean that is also the right age for your child. Everyone is different when it comes to riding a bike, especially because a lot of it has to do with confidence. You know your child best, and chances are that you'll recognize the signs ("I want to go faster mommy!") of when he is ready to take off the trainers.

Assess the Gear

A helmet is a must, but also be sure to check for loose clothing and shoelaces. Nothing ruins a good day of learning to ride a bike like his favorite superhero cape getting stuck in the chain. Plus, have you ever tried to get bicycle grease out of pants or socks?

Adjust the Bike

Many parents have had success with lowering the bike seat enough so that children can put their feet on the ground if needed. This way tots can attempt to stop themselves if they ever feel out of control.

Encouragement Goes a Long Way

As adults, we can apply the old adage: when you fall off the horse, then you have to get back up again. Kids? Not so much. Falling? No thanks, that sounds too scary. This is about confidence, so encourage them like crazy. Tell him he can do it and mean it.

Coast to Coast

Coasting helps give children a sense of how it feels to balance without having to pedal. You could even remove the pedals for a few days or weeks until she gets the hang of coasting. Have her try doing it down a small, sloping hill, or just give her a push on an open paved surface (like an empty parking lot). If your child is the competitive type, make a game out of it and see how long she can coast for with her feet on the pedals.

Don't Overdo It

Some kids won't give training-wheel removal another thought, but others are going to be wrecked by it. Literally. Don't overdo it, keep it fun, and remember that this could take a while — and might even leave a few bumps and bruises. If your tot's not getting it, then try, try again . . . tomorrow.

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