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Please reassure me that it doesn't matter if my 7yr old still has stabilisers on his bike

(37 Posts)
JemimaMuddledUp Thu 25-Aug-11 11:20:40

DS2 is 7. He is small for his age, and has always had problems with balance and motor skills (late to walk, late to write, late to jump confidently, late to pedal a trike etc etc).

He has been riding a bike with stabilisers for a couple of years. But last year he got really upset as his friends in school were teasing him for still having stabilisers. He didn't want to take his bike to school as they took the mickey out of him.

So we bought him a bigger bike (which he needed anyway) which didn't have stabilisers. This was at Easter. We have spent the past 4 months trying to teach him to ride without stabilisers, and it just isn't working. We have taken the pedals off so he learsn to balance, ran up and down the road holding onto the back of his seat, let him go on small hills... he just falls off. And cries. He just isn't ready yet.

Last night I took the stabilisers off his old bike and put them onto his new one. He is now riding up and down the road with stabilisers, happy as larry.

But we have already been asked by a neighbour if there is "something wrong" with DS2 as he still has stabilisers and her 4 year old can ride without them. This was said within DS2's earshot. I know that his friends in school will take the mickey, and it seems that other parents will think there is "something wrong" with him too.

I have told DS2 that different people learn to do things at different rates. He is very good at reading, and I'm sure not all of the non stabiliser bike riders could read the books that he does. I've explained to him that this is OK, and that just as he wouldn't go up to someone and call them stupid because they couldn't read something that he could they shouldn't say he is a baby because he still needs stabilisers.

I really don't want him to be picked on about it, but there is no point taking his stabilisers off if he just isn't ready yet, is there?

Marne Thu 25-Aug-11 11:33:51

My dd1 (7.5) will only ride with stabisers, she does have low muscle tone which meens she cant pedel very well but she's not bothered by what others think, i dont think i could ride a bike without them until i was 7+. I'm sure he wont get picked on.

mistlethrush Thu 25-Aug-11 11:41:36

When you say you took the pedals off and pushed his seat - that might have been the problem.

Try taking the pedals off the small bike (now it has no stabilisers) - make sure he can get his feet flat on the floor with his legs a bit bent when he's sitting on the saddle - and tell him to sit on the saddle but push himself along with his feet. When he's got 'walking' it along, encourage him to go a bit faster. If you get him 'running' with it, he will not be keeping a foot on the floor all of the time. Then go where there is a gentle hill and get him to do the same there. Then go back to the top of the hill and get him doing a little bit of running to get going, then see if he can stop running and free wheel - keeping feet placed so that he can keep himself up if necessary. Its learning that your feet are the balancers to start with - so that you don't fall off - and then that you can free wheel without feet on the ground - which leads to the natural balance - not just the speed thing.

DS had a balance bike - he broke his first when he was just 2, riding into a tree too fast (blush). We got him a metal one instead, and he ended up scooting round at brakeneck speed by the time he was 3 - but the process of learning how to balance was done as above, not by pushing him along on it.

ragged Thu 25-Aug-11 11:50:34

I don't like taking just pedals off; you still have cranks which get in the way. To get cranks off you need to take bottom bracket off (needs special tools). So we just left pedals on. But otherwise I broadly agree with Mistlethrush. Too small bike is the way to go to get the basic hang of it. What i did with mine was have them learn on a much too small bike (with pedals but no stabs). So they felt completely secure getting feet on the floor as fast as they needed.

I think it does matter for OP only because her son is unhappy, and has been teased about it. sad Objectively of course it doesn't matter in itself, some people never get around to learning.

ImeldaM Thu 25-Aug-11 11:57:52

Just wanted to add my agreement with others advice, to learn to ride without stabilisers really need to be able to have feet flat on ground. Much easier for them to get their 'balance' that way. Have helped several of DS friends who just weren't getting it by advising to get the seat right down.

Hope he gets on better, he will be so chuffed when he does.

Haberdashery Thu 25-Aug-11 12:00:12

Of course it doesn't matter. How incredibly rude and mean of your neighbour to say something like that in front of your son. If your son wants to persevere with trying to learn, that's fine and I applaud his determination. But if he doesn't, that is really absolutely fine, too. FWIW, I only learnt to ride a bike without stabilisers when I was nearly 9 (am worst sportswoman in the world, can barely catch a ball) and I am not noticeably worse at riding a bike than anyone else as an adult (still unsporty, though). People just learn when they are ready. I was also teased about being small and weedy and it put me off sport a bit but then it was never going to be my strong point!

Having said that, since it's bothering him a bit, are there any other activities you could do with him to build balance skills and speed the process up a bit? Does he have a scooter? DD had a bike first (was useless) and then a scooter but the scooter really helped her with the balance thing and was less scary than a bike as it's easier to put a foot on the floor if you feel out of control/wobbly.

DorisIsAPinkDragon Thu 25-Aug-11 12:02:25

DD1 just jusrned 6 has just learned this summer. We couldn't get the pedals off (cheap bike!) but we did lower the seat down so she could easily touch the floor as mistle thrush says. tbh we went out every day after school for 5 mins up and down the road, we then had a week camping we put the seat back up and away she went. DD2 is relctant to lose the stablisers (although proably too much like hard work for her grin) but dd3 (2) now has a balance bike and is almost as fast as DD1!

DorisIsAPinkDragon Thu 25-Aug-11 12:04:30

Forgot to say DD1 was beginning to get conscious of her stablisers as she was the last of all her friends whichis why we made a massive effort this summer. She's also MUCH better at reading than anything balance and cooordination wise.

TheOriginalDesperateHousewife Thu 25-Aug-11 12:05:07

No, it doesn't matter if he still needs stabalisers.

Or if a 7 yo still needs pull ups at night.

Or is hasn't mastered reading. Or swimming.

7 year olds still quite small and still learning lots of things. Just because Jo Bloggs down the road could do something at 2, doesn't mean every one else should be able to do it.


Pinkx3 Thu 25-Aug-11 12:06:43

My DD is 7 and has only just started learning to ride without stabilisers. I felt like such a bad parent for not spending more time teaching her earlier (loads of little kids round our way sem to zoom about without them) so I am glad I'm not the only one! grin

Pinkx3 Thu 25-Aug-11 12:06:59


JemimaMuddledUp Thu 25-Aug-11 13:28:10

Thanks to everyone who has suggested how to teach him, but as I said in my OP we have tried all of these (including taking the pedals off - DH's friend has the tools needed to do it). The pedal removal and seat holding were done seperately. The seat was low enough for his feet to be flat on the floor. He fell off, and got upset. Which says to me that he just is not ready.

He isn't actually that concious of his stabilisers, well not until people take the mickey.

He has a scooter and rides that well, but scooters aren't that practical for long bike rides.

I know I was over 7 when I learned to ride a bike, I had my first bike for my 7th birthday (no stabilisers) and my older brother taught me by running around holding onto the back of the seat then letting go. But IIRC it took a long time to learn and I must have been at least 7.5 or even 8 before I could ride it properly. I don't remember people being nasty to me though because I couldn't ride it! As an adult I ride a bike almost every day, so being a "late starter" hasn't held me back.

CotesduRhone Thu 25-Aug-11 13:30:05

God, I was about nine and I am in no way a late starter, it was just one of those things. grin Your neighbour is a dick, if you have to take pedals off, make sure you shove one in his gob.

mistlethrush Thu 25-Aug-11 13:33:25

But if he had his feet on the floor, he wouldn't have fallen off, that's the point I'm making. If he tried to balance on the bike without his feet being nearly on the floor, of course he fell off. That's why you start them off walking and move on to running and only then suggest feet off the floor when going a decent speed for very short bits - with their feet ready to go down again too. Did he really walk along with the bike when you took the wheels off or did he try to push off and freewheel immediately?

Riding a bike and balancing a bike is really more to do with the physical knowledge of how to balance - which is really something best not thought about but simply learned from experiementation - riding with stabilisers will not really help that.

deemented Thu 25-Aug-11 13:39:17

Hi Jemima,

Please don't be offended, but is there a chance that your DS may be dyspraxic at all? My ds2 is seven next month and hasn't mastered riding his bike without stabilisers, he can't tie shoelaces and was late walking etc. He's recetly been diagnosed with dyspraxia and it's has been a revelation for us - all the seemingly little things on their own have added up to a bigger thing and we now understand it iyswim?

Of course, it matters not a jot that he's still using stabilisers - he'll get there in his own time, and will be all the sweeter when he does.

JemimaMuddledUp Thu 25-Aug-11 13:39:39

His feet were on the floor.
He was walking.
He fell off.
We didn't get as far as running.

JemimaMuddledUp Thu 25-Aug-11 13:47:18

deemented - don't worry I'm not offended. I think it highly likely that he is dyspraxic, and so does his class teacher. He is waiting to be assessed. He is getting better at writing, getting himself dressed etc and has even started playing football (which is a revelation as he used to trip himself up when he ran!) but it is a slow process. Which makes me even more keen not to push the bike riding without stabilisers if he isn't ready.

deemented Thu 25-Aug-11 13:50:48

Ah! To be honest i gave DS2 a choice - he could persevere with his bike or he could use his scooter, and he much prefers his scooter and no longer gets frustrated as much. Occasionally he'll go back to his bike and give it another go, but it's just not clicking with him yet, and to be fair, he's quite happy on his scooter so i'm not pushing it.

JemimaMuddledUp Thu 25-Aug-11 14:05:45

I think DS2 prefers his scooter too, but we like to go on bike rides as a family and going by scooter doesn't really work very well.

We have got one of these which means that he can hitch up behind DH on long bike rides, which works quite well.

pranma Thu 25-Aug-11 14:09:58

The dc who have balance bikes often learn to ride without stabilisers really quickly otherwise I would think 7 isnt really late-it will come smile

pink4ever Thu 25-Aug-11 14:11:23

My ds is 8 and cant ride his bike without stabilisers. He sounds very much like your ds with the late to do other things. We have tried and tried but he just cant get the balance right. My only concern is that they have cycling lessons around about this age in school and I dont want him to be embaressed around his friendssad

Socy Thu 25-Aug-11 14:16:34

DS1 didn't learn to ride till he was about 7 and just announced one morning that 'I'm going to learn to ride my bike today' and he did it too. He had problems catching a ball and was never good at sport at school (even at 16 was being laughed at by his friends for not being able to catch a frisbee!) but he is very into mountain biking, climbing and now teaches adventure sports! Actually DB took ages to learn to ride a bike too but has since cycled to Turkey and back. There is no rush to learn these things. smile

FannyFifer Thu 25-Aug-11 14:39:36

Thank god, someone else.
DS is 6 1/2 and has not a clue how to ride a bike, he falls off it with the stabilisers on, no concept that if you just put feet down you won't fall over.

We have given up for now to be honest, he has no idea how to ride a scooter either.

Have been aware of possible balance issues as he would always trip up etc, wasn't late walking or anything but I have wondered about Dyspraxia or low tone.

He started TaeKwon Do 18 months ago and that has helped his balance and co-ordination immensely.

Still cant ride a bike though.

deemented Thu 25-Aug-11 14:42:08

Funny you should say that, Fanny - we were told that something like TaeKwon Do or Karate would be a perfect after school activity by the occupational therapist/physio as it would help his balance and co-ordination!

mistlethrush Thu 25-Aug-11 14:50:55

Ds does yoga (Yogabugs) which has dramatically improved his balance - much more so than karate I think.

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