My son is 9 and refuses to ride a bike. We really want to get him riding this summer and so do you have any tips on how to get him the confidence to ride and is signing him up for a learn to ride program a possibility?
This is a tough thing and it limits what you can all do as a family. As parents we get anxious when our children seem to be falling behind. Of course, if they feel forced into it they could learn to hate cycling and resent their parents. There’s a lot at stake.
It is also likely that the child is also feeling embarrassment or shame on top of their fear. I wonder if some 1-on-1 with an uncle or other trusted adult could work. I could do that too, it’s a service I offer.
Here’s what you could do:
1. Drop the seat on the bike so he can have his feet flat on the ground.
2. Remove the pedals.
3. Keep the pedals off until he can coast at least 15 meters on his own
4. Get out every day (while you walk the dog).
5. Don’t put the pedals on for at least 7 days.
6. Praise every victory and every crash. (I give points and sugar treats).
7. Resist frustration and comparison. He’s already doing that. Be the grown up and have a bigger picture of what’s going on.
8. When the pedals go on, start on a slight, grassy downhill.
9. Hold him as long as he’s asking
10. It’s okay to get tired/frustrated and to just walk the bike. Just get back on tomorrow.
11. Celebrate crashes (yes I said it 2x). We all have scars from learning independence on a bike.
12. No parent meltdowns. Be the adult. Decide now that your buttons are in child lock mode.
Thanks for the great question.
See you on the trails!