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Bike with stabilisers for balance bike refusing 4 yo?

(28 Posts)
omama Fri 13-Jun-14 18:18:29

Not sure where this should go really but thinking its a development thing more than a toys & games topic? Feel free to move if necessary.

DS is almost 4. He got a balance bike for his 3rd birthday & has barely ridden it. He tries every now & again, but is still at the stage where he stands straddling the seat & walks slowly with it, one foot at a time. He really can't seem to get the hang of sitting down & pushing both feet at once to get up some speed & has never yet free wheeled it with feet in the air. He says he is scared that he might fall off & usually chooses to walk if we suggest taking it out.

We've tried not to push him into using it, as a result its hardly been used! I'm beginning to wonder if maybe balance bikes aren't suited to everyone, (though tbh he is the ONLY kid I know of who can't seem to master it) and if ds would feel more confident on a bike with stabilisers, as he can't fall off.

But on the other hand I'm reluctant since the whole point of us getting the balance bike in the first place was to avoid the whole stabilisers thing & get him riding sooner. Plus I dont want to waste money on a different bike that he still may not even use.

Is it worth trying stabilisers or would you not bother & wait it out for another year? Or do I assume he's just not into biking? Worrying now am becoming one of these pushy parent types blush just would be nice for him to keep up & join in with his friends on playdates & I think if he dared to try he would actually enjoy it. If you got this far thanks for reading & for any advice you can share.

buzzy1 Fri 13-Jun-14 18:34:36

Sorry no advice as such but I'm in the same boat with my 4 year old. We have a balance bike which he is reluctant to use. His big bro used it no problem and was riding a bike within 6 months of using it I think. I think it's worth persisting with the balance bike as once they get the hang of it they ride a bike much quicker than with stabilisers. It will be worth it in the long run, and i think 4 is still quite young to learn to master riding a bike so probably early days.

hazeyjane Fri 13-Jun-14 18:39:07

Both my dds had bikes with stabilisers and had no problem in moving on and taking stabilsers off.

oobedobe Fri 13-Jun-14 18:44:10

My DD1 had a balance bike from 2 and loved it, but when we brought her a proper bike for her 4th birthday she insisted that the stabilizers stayed on even though we knew she could balance. I think she needed time to practice pedalling as she had never had a trike - also bikes are usually heavier/harder to control than balance bikes.

I think stabilizers are fine, they get to ride a proper bike and get themselves around but it is very controlled (ie slow). DD1 ended up using stabilizers until she was 5.5 and now rides her bike really well without.

If you do get him a bike, then make sure you don't get one too small, after a year and a half DD1 looked ridiculous on her tiny 12" bike and we had to get a 16". Also buy second-hand if you are worried about cost, there are loads of barely used bikes out there.

Iggly Fri 13-Jun-14 21:22:51

Are you sure the seat isn't too high? Ds is much better on his balance bike when the seat was adjusted correctly. Make it lower so his feet sit flat on the floor.

omama Sat 14-Jun-14 09:14:05

Thanks for all your replies. I half expected a unanimous 'noooo don't get stabilisers' response, so good to hear from others who have used them no probs.

Iggly the seat definitely isnt too high. He is flat footed on both sides, just stands over the seat instead of sitting on it!!!

He's never been interested much in ride on toys, but tbh our house doesn't lend itself to riding them anyway - the rooms are all on different levels & a mix of surfaces & outside the path is uneven slabs & a gravel drive - so he's never really had a good place to practice.

I guess we'll persevere for a while longer & failing that, we'll have to go with stabilisers. Thanks all.

lljkk Sat 14-Jun-14 09:19:19

He's never really had a good place to practice

that sounds rather key. why would you get anything if he'll never get a chance to ride it anywhere? Do you even go out on bikes yourself? There's nothing for him to aspire to, is there?

I wonder if he would like a scooter better. Something he could ride to nursery perhaps. Whatever you get, let him choose it.

I like stabilisers, Jolly useful things. I cannot fathom the prejudices against them. I've had a balance bike too, but I still like stabs fine.

lljkk Sat 14-Jun-14 09:20:26

ps: I disagree slightly about the size of bike above. ime, it's very important they learn to ride on a bike that is too small for them. 12" wheel bike from car boot sale was perfect learning bike for my kids.

omama Sat 14-Jun-14 12:39:40

lljkk 'Theres nothing for him to aspire to, is there?'
That feels a bit harsh, didnt come here for a dressing down, only some friendly advice.

Fwiw he has a scooter already & struggles with that too so doesnt really bother. We do ride bikes (he asks to go in the child seat) & we do regularly take him to places where he can use both his bike and his scooter but he declines outright, or rides for 10 seconds max then has had enough & we end up carrying it I ask him every time we go to nursery if he wants to ride his bike or scooter and he point blank refuses & walks instead. I dont like to push the issue by insisting he rides it as I've learnt from experience that he doesnt respond well to it & is likely to refuse all the more. What more can we do?

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 14-Jun-14 12:50:04

DD was the same. For ages and ages she would just walk around with the bike between her legs not sitting on it. She's had it since she was about two. She's four now and is just beginning to get the hang if it.

We just had to be patient and accept this was going to be slow, and not hurry her or put any pressure on.

I don't know what your budget is like but have a look at the WeeHoo. Its a cross between a tagalong bike and a child seat and DD loves it because she can go fast and pedal. So its good if we actually want to go somewhere on the bike, and we save the balance bike for pootling in the park. We hope that at some point the two skills will come together.

With regards to seat height make sure he can have both feet flat on the ground with legs slightly bent. DD felt really unstable when we had the saddle at the "right" height.

lljkk Sat 14-Jun-14 12:53:12

My apologies, I truly didn't mean to sound harsh. I don't see that you need do anything, he's not even 4 yet. He's not unhappy about the situation.

I was a 1970s child in another country & avg age among my peers (I surveyed them at the time) to ride without stabs was just about 5.5yo. Although plenty of British adults can't ride a bike at all, & plenty of them are perfectly happy that way, it seems plenty of Brits also think that a 4yo should already be peddling fine without stabs. confused. I still believe anything under 5.5yo is pretty early to do it. And in my experience, under 5.5yo is also fairly unsafe. Arguing with a 4yo why they shouldn't ride in the road with adults was not fun.

kelda Sat 14-Jun-14 12:56:59

Why not have stabilizers? My ds used the balance bike to learn to balance, and the bike with stablizers to learn to pedal, which in itself requires a lot of co-ordination. He has just learnt to ride a real bike aged five and a half - which is very good considering he had a type of dyspraxia and hypermobile joints.

Both my girls learnt to cycle using stabilizers.

Mutley77 Sat 14-Jun-14 13:12:02

I disagree with most pp. I would stick with / encourage the bb. No child I know has needed stabilisers after a bb so even if your ds takes longer to get going he is still further forward. I think doing one leg at a time is fine. That is how my dc and all the other kids I know have done it and seems to simulate proper bike riding better; one leg at a time!

Once you have seen them learn for . A bb stabs seem so counter intuitive.

My youngest dd is one and has just started on a scramble bug. She standsv over it doibg one leg at a time and I can see her moving quickly to sitting, then next step a bb. Why not try a scuttle bug? I think that is the next step on from a scramble bug and teaches propelling and balance with a bit more stability than a bb.

bonzo77 Sat 14-Jun-14 13:12:36

Ds learned within 6 weeks. Straight to a bike with no stabilisers. The key was very short frequent practices. I would park at the top of the hill near nursery, and he'd ride the bike (we'd removed the pedals so it was like a balance bike) down the hill, which is about 100m. We did this 3x a week for a month, then put one pedal on so he only propelled himself with one foot. A week later he was riding. The seat needs to be high enough that both feet reach the floor, but not quite flat, not tip toes either. It's a compromise between security and some motivation to get his feet off the ground. And going down hill helps as momentum is on your side. Helmet, gloves and long sleeves and trousers help minimise injuries and maximise confidence.

omama Sun 15-Jun-14 23:20:42

Thanks again everyone. I'm not expecting him to ride a bike unaided yet, would just be nice to see him getting a bit of motion as the lack of speed (which ultimately comes from lack of confidence) works against him.

Mutley we got a scramble bug/scuttle bug thing when ds was 1 - he never got on with that either - it just sat there unused so I sold it a few months ago.

We took the bikes out yest & he did the usual & asked to go in the child seat. Not sure it was the right way to go about it, but we lied blush & told him he's too heavy & he had to ride his own bike. Cue tantrum, til we promised to stop at the park. He did it, albeit very slowly & with us constantly reminding him to sit not stand, all the way to the park & back, which is way further than he's ever gone before. Small steps eh?!

MeanwhileHighAboveTheField Mon 16-Jun-14 13:11:15

Have you tried with the seat a bit higher, so he naturally sits on it? Also they don't usually use both feet at the same time on a balance bike, it's more of a walking/running action.

Bumpsadaisie Mon 16-Jun-14 13:59:52

I was going to say too - the seat sounds too low if he has flat feet on both sides.

Also if he is nearly 4 he might be too big for it so he is all bunched up on it, if you see what I mean. It is harder to balance if you are like a big weight sat on quite a small thing, easier if the bike is bigger in comparison to him. I know my son, at 2.8, is now getting too big for his Islabike Rothan balance bike (but he will have to wait till he is 3 for the next one up!)

What I would do, if I were you, would be to get him the correct sized Islabike (no I don't work for them!), take the pedals and pedal stems off and get him balancing on that, then he should move to pedals quickly once he has the knack.

Bumpsadaisie Mon 16-Jun-14 14:02:11

PS Don't use stabilisers. Crack the balancing on a correct sized bike, then pedals will happen overnight. (Starting off independently will take longer),

Bumpsadaisie Mon 16-Jun-14 14:03:37

Final message promise - find somewhere with a gently sloping downhill and encourage him to walk down it but with his bottom on the seat, he will inevitably build speed and his legs will naturally go right, left, right, left and soon he will be balancing.

Rooble Mon 16-Jun-14 14:11:13

It could just be that he will do it when he's ready too, not when pushed to. My DS has been like this for everything physical (cruising, walking, swimming, scooting, cycling) and I've been stupidly embarrassed every time that other children can do stuff at x age when DS absolutely refuses. Yet the m

Rooble Mon 16-Jun-14 14:13:18

Sorry - the moment he decides he wants to do something, he does. (So he is only just now, just turned 7, cycling confidently and independently because before now he was convinced it was unsafe). Maybe let him use stabilisers until he is happy and feels safe?

museumum Mon 16-Jun-14 14:18:59

I think that when his feet are both flat on the floor his crotch/bum should naturally be on the seat in sitting position... then he goes up onto the balls of his feet to 'stand' over the seat.
So it sounds like his balance bike seat is too low actually (unusual as most people put them too high).

After doing the whole dad holding onto the back bit with no luck, I learned to ride by taking my bike out and hanging out with friends... distracted by the game we were playing I just put my feet on the pedals and went... I think that hanging out on the bike a lot, with other children, is crucial. I was four.

cheminotte Mon 16-Jun-14 14:37:37

Definitely persevere. No need to worry yet but make sure the opportunities are little and often.

omama Fri 20-Jun-14 17:09:26

Thanks again everyone. He's def not too big for the bike, he's small for his age & the seat can be adjusted up way higher than we've got it.

We've got him on it a few more times & have been watching him closely, he seemed to actually be a tad too high now he's in his summer footwear, so we've lowered the seat slightly & he can reach the floor much more comfortably. He is still walking very very slowly with it, we are trying to encourage him to pick up some speed & run with it but he's having none of it!
rooble I agree he sounds just like your ds! He never ever cruised/ walked holding onto an adult's hand, he waited til he could do it by himself then just went for it! So perhaps biking will be the same.

Love the idea of the Islabike, but am going to wait til next year for that I think!

Rockdoctor Fri 20-Jun-14 20:35:24

We bought a balance bike for DD1 which she really didn't take to at all. The thing that really taught her balance was a scooter (2-wheels), which she loved and which seemed to be enough to get her on to an Islabike without stabilisers soon after her 4th birthday. Maybe a scooter is an option instead?

DD2 on the other hand loved the balance bike and went straight from that to the Islabike soon after her 4th birthday.

I read somewhere that the part of their brain that allows them to "balance" doesn't really work until they are three and a half or so, so it is still early days.

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