like riding a bike.

Six years ago I was a darn near perfect parent.

I knew exactly how to handle every situation. What to say, how to say it, and who to blame when things went awry in other people’s children.

Of course, six years ago my first child was yet to be born. But I just knew I had all the answers to this easy little thing called parenting.

I remember being in a bike store in Colorado Springs shortly before I got pregnant with Sarah. There was a sign up on the bulletin board advertising for someone’s small business teaching your child to ride a bike. I rolled my eyes and scoffed my perfect parent scoff. Who in the world would need someone else to teach their own child how to ride a bike?!

Um, perhaps someone who had actually tried to teach their own child how to ride a bike.

Heaven help us.

Our Pi’bears is not real keen on this whole bike riding experience. Her nervous little heart just won’t let herself pedal, propel or steer independently. Which leads to falls and tears and…more nervousness.

The only way we got her out there last Saturday was by promising her that Brent would take her for a ride with the co-pilot bike trailer when they were finished.

She also insisted that she would only make 15 attempts. And she painfully got off the bike each time and documented each ride in her handy dandy notebook.

(What she may lack in athletic determination and confidence she makes up for, heartily, in academic determination and confidence.)

Oh Pi’bears…

I sure wish that perfect parent would come and tell us what to do.

KimberlySeptember 22, 2011 - 10:07 am

I didn’t learn until I was 8. Entirely too wimpy for that moment of letting go. By 9, I was riding around with no hands while reading a book. Entirely too confident, lol.

She’ll learn:)

Susan from MarylandSeptember 22, 2011 - 10:21 am

Have her ride in really thick grass. It slows them down a bit and enables them to balance a bit better. Give it a shot!

KimberlySeptember 22, 2011 - 10:23 am

Our 5 yr old just learned how to ride this summer. The key was putting her back on her smaller bike and using a gentle grassy slope in our back yard. A few times on the little hill and she was ready to move to concrete!

Allison Y.September 22, 2011 - 10:33 am

I’m sure you’ll get lots of great tips about this . . . here’s one more. We took the pedals off our daughter’s bike and put the seat low enough that she could just push herself around with her feet. It helped her get a feel for balancing and when we put the pedals back on, she was ready to go. (You can also buy something similar with no pedals) The journal writing is adorable!

DebbieSeptember 22, 2011 - 10:41 am

Hey Erin, I can’t say I have any great advice for actually teaching your kids… But I can recommend something for saving your backs as you hold on to the back of the bike. We bought a Balance Buddy off of Amazon. It was a big relief on my husband’s back as he ran up and down the street with Emma. Good luck! And my daughter just learned at age 7.5 so no worries for Sarah. One day it will just click with her.

DebbieSeptember 22, 2011 - 10:43 am

I just read Allison’s post and yes, that seemed to help Emma too. 🙂

HeidiSeptember 22, 2011 - 10:50 am

Not trying to be a know it all parent, but google “balance bike.” My 2 year old loves hers and glides around on it. You can even modify an existing bike into a balance bike. There’s a YouTube video that shows you how to do it!

LaurenSeptember 22, 2011 - 11:23 am

Thank you for this post! Our daughter is 5 and, after a fall on her bike this apring, has refused to get on her bike. She finally got back on last night (with training wheels mind you) and I considered it a huge success. I never imagined my 5 year old wouldn’t be able to ride a bike. But what did I know before I had kids anyway? Best of luck to Sarah!

Heidi P.September 22, 2011 - 11:25 am

Hee hee.
I still don’t ride a bike. Not well anyway. I’m 29!

My perfect parent judgements were reserved mostly for those naughty children in grocery stores whose parents “just can’t *make* them behave!” It would disgust me so much to see or hear a kid throwing a tantrum & the parents either not doing anything or pleading with them to be good.

Well, God most certainly has a way of humbling us with our own children. I no longer pass harsh judgements on those poor mothers. Mostly because now it’s me who gets those dirty looks and has to take my 3 kiddos out to car umpteen times for a “talk”.

And, yes, where are those perfect parents now?

MichelleSeptember 22, 2011 - 11:25 am

Add another check to the balance bike list! I just bought one online for my 7 and 4 year old to learn. My 7 year old is so cautious. They’ve only used it a couple times each. My 4 year old can balance down the drive way already. This weekend we are going back to the normal bikes to try again. Good luck!

nikki mSeptember 22, 2011 - 11:36 am

(raises hand shyly)….I’ve been there. I’m pretty sure I posted on FB begging friends to teach my son! We resorted to bribery. He was riding his bike with training wheels with no hands! After several attempts to teach him, I finally said “I’ll give you 20 bucks when you can ride yourself” That’s all it took…I look back now and call it “proper motivation”. I look forward to seeing the “SHE CAN RIDE” post soon!

GramaSeptember 22, 2011 - 11:37 am

“pedal, propel, and steer” all at the same time?? I had that same problem when learning to drive a stick. Concentrated so hard on the clutch, accelerator thing that I forgot to steer and drove into the house! I’m with Sarah, just too many things to think about at the same time. But I loved the pictures!!

Stacey RSeptember 22, 2011 - 12:38 pm

The Balance Buddy ( ) was so helpful when our daughter with a nervous heart learned to ride a bike. It allows the parent to hold on without bending over. We knew that if Maia fell, she’d be done riding for a while. With the BB, you can stop the bike from toppling, but you can still let them wobble a little to learn how to balance. We didn’t need this at all with my son, but I think it was crucial in teaching my daughter.

Stacey RSeptember 22, 2011 - 12:40 pm

Oops. I just saw that someone had already posted about the Balance Buddy. 🙂

AllisonSeptember 22, 2011 - 1:16 pm

Another vote for the balance buddy – if nothing else, it saves your back.

elizabethSeptember 22, 2011 - 1:43 pm

Matt is the bike instructor in our house, and he always starts them out in the grass. But past that… good luck. Maddie was super hard to teach, Gracie learned in three lessons–same parents, same instruction… it’s just hard work, that bike instructing!

Jessica WSeptember 22, 2011 - 1:45 pm

We are kinda right there with you. Our ‘problem’ is that our daughter is so tall that she needs a 20 inch bike. But, with a 20 inch bike, she can’t really touch the ground with her feet. So, I don’t see the 2 wheel ride coming any time soon.

HeatherSeptember 22, 2011 - 2:12 pm

I just have to say “daughter like dad” 🙂 Am I the only one that noticed that in the second and the last image both daughter and dad stick their tongues out when being so determined. SUPER CUTE! 🙂 No rush on the bike riding – it will come! And besides – that just means that learning to drive a car is getting closer (GAH!)

ChrissieSeptember 22, 2011 - 2:15 pm

Holly didn’t learn how to ride a two wheeler until she was 8. She wasn’t motivated enough to learn until her younger brother (age 5) learned how to ride his bike without training wheels. She was determined that he was not going to make her look like a baby.

KimSeptember 22, 2011 - 2:29 pm

Put a loose tshirt over her clothes – maybe one of yours. Have your husband grasp that bunched up in his hand instead of the bike seat to hold her steady. It sounds weird, but it does work. That way she is balancing more of the bike than him. Once someone told us that it made a HUGE difference. It will happend – eventually. Just make sure you have the camera there every time they try – you never know which time will be the one! Good luck!

Kristi SmithSeptember 22, 2011 - 2:58 pm

Erin, do you have an old 12″ bike on hand? Yums taught himself on a 12″ bike…think it was easier for him with his feet on the ground and a lighter weight. Worth a shot… 🙂

RachelSeptember 22, 2011 - 3:02 pm

I sew a similar comment, but I’ll throw my two cents in too. 🙂 we took my chicken-about-falling-off daughter to a park with a grassy hill…not too streep, but enough to help provide momentum, with grass to cushion the falls. DH ran along behind/beside her for a few runs, we had a few tears and “i can’t do this” moments, but by the end of the afternoon she could ride.

JoeySeptember 22, 2011 - 3:33 pm

Does Sarah or even Ephraim have a smaller bike, like a 12 inch one? Both of my girls taught themselves when we took the training wheels off their 12 inch bikes. Because the bikes are so small, they felt more in control and were willing to try until they got the hang of balancing. If you don’t have a smaller bike, borrow one…it will seriously make it so much easier for Sarah and you all:) Goodluck!

JoeySeptember 22, 2011 - 3:34 pm

If the bike in the pictures is already a 12-inch one, just set the seat down lower so she can easily reach the ground. The safer she feels, even if it looks like the bike is too small, the more she will be willing to try…hopefully!

Kristi KellySeptember 22, 2011 - 5:08 pm

After what I just saw at John Hunt park…I am prettttty sure you needn’t worry about Sarah’s athleticism…:)

Katie R.September 22, 2011 - 5:42 pm

Someone already mentioned this but I will reiterate — the balance bike is the way to go! ( Riley started riding his balance bike at the beginning of the summer and just hopped on his little Spiderman bike with pedals last weekend and rode around the cul de sac all on his own! ( He basically taught himself…it’s all about confidence with balancing. They learn how to pedal and steer on tricycles…it’s the balancing part that is hard and sometimes painful. I’m convinced training wheels provide “negative” training because they don’t teach you how to balance at all.

MissySeptember 22, 2011 - 7:24 pm

My 7 year old just figured it out this past summer but will only ride on the baseball field. That’s where she learned to do it(steering mastered for sure as you have to go in circles). But she will ride no where else. Even though she can go for hours on the field she is terrified to ride on cement. We can’t talk her into any kind of bike riding activity whatsover. Wishing you luck:) try a baseball field perhaps…

ChristiSeptember 22, 2011 - 9:51 pm

OMGosh! I nearly snorted my soda up my nose when I got to the picture of her documenting each attempt in her bicycle log book!!! Love this girl 🙂 (Maggie FINALLY learned around age 7 I think with help from our great neighbor on their gently sloping grassy side yard – got the feel of just riding down balancing sans pedals first, then added the pedals and took off like a champ)

Tracy JacksonSeptember 23, 2011 - 3:01 am

I tried on 2 different occasions to teach my daughter with similar results. Then my Sister in law came for a visit and told her that she would pay her and she learned in an afternoon!

Kim S.September 23, 2011 - 4:43 am

my boys both learned in a large grassy field. Not sure why, but that seemed to make it easier for them. maybe try that with her?

KarleneSeptember 23, 2011 - 6:42 am

We had our girls learn to ride on the grass with a gentle downward slope – so they got the balance before the pedals because it’s not that easy to ride on grass. They were much less afraid of falling on the grass that the pavement. That’s what worked for us.

KelliSeptember 23, 2011 - 7:32 am

My hubby mountain bikes, rides his bike to and from work, and would ride just about anywhere, but our 15 year old daughter can’t ride. Doesn’t really want to. He’s tried a couple times through out her life and she just doesn’t feel like it. She also has a book she carries with her, a sketch book. I think it’s so cute that your daughter documented her riding.

LaraSeptember 23, 2011 - 9:24 am

Love it! I especially love that she kept careful track of each of her 15 attempts — too funny!

JenniferSeptember 23, 2011 - 9:29 am

With Tyler I just gradually moved the training wheels up a bit so they weren’t directly on the ground. They’d get a little higher and a little higher and when he’d be out riding around I would say “I don’t want to hear the training wheels hit the ground.” So he would practice his balancing but knew they were there to save him if he needed them. Eventually he said “I don’t need them anymore!” and took them off himself.

tara pollard pakostaSeptember 23, 2011 - 2:56 pm

They all learn in their own time!
My one daughter was 6.5 when she learned & the other one was about 2 months shy of her 9th, yes NINTH birthday!!!!!! all in due time! everyone has their own strengths, she will ride when she wants to!!! and by the way, my one who was older, she just rode the VERY FIRST TRY and NEVER fell!!!!!!

AmandaSeptember 24, 2011 - 2:25 pm

Yep…my two votes are balance bike and grassy slope. Concrete is intimidating!

TerebeneSeptember 24, 2011 - 9:04 pm

This is late and I hope you see it. We went to a large flat grassy field. Just a few minutes every single night until she got it. And we do it again every time we upgrade bike sizes. Once they get it, it’s all good!

CrystalSeptember 24, 2011 - 10:20 pm

Our granddaughter was having lots of trouble too and then she read “Franklin Rides A Bike” and it’s a whole different story now. She wears elbow and knee pads and uses the same philosophy as Franklin for getting back up and trying again. I never imagined that a book would be such a help for her. You might want to try it – and she is so sweet with the notebook!

Danielle SSeptember 25, 2011 - 2:32 pm

We were the crazy parents that sent our daughter to bike school. it was the best money spent! one day into camp the training wheels were off and she was getting the courage to try now. The basic idea of the camp was to put the seat all the way down so that if they felt like they would fall they could put their feet down. And the other thing is to hold on to their shoulders not the bike. not only does it save your back it teaches them balance. Best of luck!

TracySeptember 26, 2011 - 9:00 am

All kids are different. My son learned at age 4 how to ride without training wheels by mistake. He wanted to try without training wheels which was a nightmare and when my husband went to put the training wheels back on he put them on wrong so they were both about half and inch from the ground. My son was wobbly on them at first but still had them there to support him. After while he learned how to balance and the training wheels never hit the ground. We decided then tomtake them off since he wasn’t using them at all while riding. When we took them off he took off without a problem and was so surprised at himself. Now, my now 4 year old son will most likely be older when we take his off because he even falls over whith his training wheels on!

KrystalSeptember 26, 2011 - 9:27 am

Try using a broom stick….put it in the triangle shaped hole at the back of the bike frame ( under the seat and in front of the back wheel ). The pole gives you the flexibility of holding on to it for steady balance and losening your grip as they get better and better. It also helps save your back from bending down running along with them! Plus as you are behind them they do not see when you let go and start riding on their own without even knowing it! Good luck!

VictoriaSeptember 26, 2011 - 10:28 am

Wait till she’s 8. or 9. or 10. Where does it say they have to learn by a certain age?! Love the post about the fun run. Maybe she never needs to ride a bike if she can run that fast 🙂

Elizabeth C.September 28, 2011 - 7:48 am

Sweet girl. I like how you really get to see bits of her personality through new experiences like this. Good luck with the process! No suggestions here, as my little guy is almost 2. 🙂

Claudia MassieSeptember 28, 2011 - 3:20 pm

Wow, love the soccer photos.

JannaSeptember 28, 2011 - 5:36 pm

Our 8 yr old learned to ride when he was 6. His bike came with training wheels, and we let him ride around with those on for about a year. Then one day, we took them off, and he took off on his bike and never looked back.

RachelleOctober 1, 2011 - 7:51 am

I totally relate… teaching bike riding was not something I did well. By the end of the experience, my brother was the teacher and I merely documented the experience with photos… Luckily, two years later, my daughter totally thinks I was the bike riding instructor and has forgotten my frustrated rants, my giving up, and my “yep, let’s put the training wheels back on.” I hope it’s easier when my son is ready to trade the trike for a bike.

jessOctober 3, 2011 - 11:30 am

I’m catching up on blog reading so I’m behind but I just had to say I love your daughter and her notebooks.It makes me smile every time. I particularly loved the attendence taking — that was always a favorite.

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