It still blows my mind whenever I see a child riding a bike with training wheels today. This has got to be a result of being conditioned by norms that were around when I was a child. Or by the big box toy stores who seem to perpetuate the training wheel-equipped kid’s bikes still in abundance today.
I recall the years when I was learning to ride a bike. I was so afraid to get on the two-wheeled joyride due in large part to all the falls I had incurred whilst trying. I was content to keep riding with training wheels or to never ride again.
Training Wheels Teach Bad Habits
Training wheels teach bad habits and set unrealistic expectations. Try and think back to when you rode your bike with training wheels.
Do you remember cornering? Remember how you had to lean counter-intuitively to the outside of the turn in order to keep the bike upright? That’s because leaning naturally to the inside position was impossible due to the inside training wheel’s proximity to the ground.
Do you recall flying down the driveway, or achieving so much speed that the bike bounced back and forth from left to right as it struggled to maintain balance between the two wheels?
Or do you remember just leaning on one of the training wheels as you cruised down the street?
These are all consequences of the training wheel’s limits and unreal expectations set upon the rider. In reality, none of the aforementioned is possible without a crash fest placed upon us by the ever-present forces of gravity.
Let’s face it, in the words by the Barenaked Ladies’ Steven Page, “It’s All Been Done” is mostly true. Who’s brilliant ideas was it to reintroduce the Dandy Horse as a children’s Balance Bike. This was utter brilliance and has resulted in both of my children riding a bike without ever having training wheels and at the age of three.
Honestly, both of my kids mounted their pedal bikes without hesitation and rode off as if there was no other option. They simply progressed from riding today’s balance bike to a pedal bike without a single fall or thought that this freedom was not theirs for the taking. A balance bike allows our kids to develop at their own pace according to their own rules and level of comfort. They play a bit, coast a bit, push themselves through the grass, eventually building up enough courage to ride down little hills around the yard. Until one day, they’re blasting all over the yard, through leaf piles and onto smooth surfaces where their speeds pick up as they deem necessary.
So, parents, I urge you to consider forgoing the traditional training-wheel equipped bike for the wooden Dandy Horse of today. Your kids will thank you because you have set them up for success. And this is our primary role, isn’t it?
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