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Help! Ds cant ride bike

53 replies

malloryknox47 · 14/09/2020 23:07

I feel really ashamed writing this but my ds who has just turned 9 still can't ride a bike. He had one at about 4/5 and showed no interest whatsoever. Looking back I should have insisted. But he was interested in other things and it didn't seem that important at the time.
Then he grew out of that bike and I couldn't afford another until quite recently. He is really struggling. He's embarrassed to practice anywhere local in case people we know see him and as we don't have a garden I've taken to driving us out to random car parks and such to practice but he's really struggling. And because he's older and heavier I find it hard to support him.
I feel so guilty for letting him get to this age without teaching him such a basic skill. Especially now all his friends can ride. Has anyone got any tips or advice on how to teach an older child?

OP posts:
Crankley · 15/09/2020 00:49

I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 38 - my neighbour ran me up and down the road a few times holding onto the seat until I got the hang of it, albeit I was a bit wobbly. Grin

TheVanguardSix · 15/09/2020 00:52

I taught my 10-year-old to ride a bike thanks to this video!
She was whizzing around confidently an hour after I went out to teach her. Two weeks later, she's a confident bike rider. You'd think she's been riding since she was small.

MrsAvocet · 15/09/2020 01:07

I'm a cycling coach. I would definitely recommend taking the pedals off his bike, dropping the saddle and getting him to use it as a balance bike. Have a look at It is aimed at younger children and some of the activities will be a bit young for your DS but the basic principles can be applied to a learner of any age. We use this programme in our club, mainly for younger children but I have taught older children who for whatever reason haven't managed to ride independently yet. At first they can be a bit unhappy about riding a balance bike as they think its babyish but I've found that once they give it a try and get their balance they gain a lot of confidence and it is usually then a fairly quick progression to riding with pedals.
I agree that it might be worth looking for a coach or even just getting someone else to help him. Despite having the best of intentions, parents aren't always the right people to teach a child to ride. But it can be upsetting for parents if they can't help their child to learn and I have had a few parents tell me that they feel like failures. I always ask them if when they were learning to drive they went out with their Mum or Dad. This is generally met with a wry smile and stories about loss of patience, arguments, people getting out of the car in a huff etc and they almost always agree that lessons with an instructor were more productive. I then explain that their child is likely to be feeling pretty much the same about learning to ride their bike. It is no reflection on you as a parent if you need to ask someone else to help. Sometimes it just diffuses tension to have a different adult involved, sometimes it needs someone with specific training to help out but it is nothing to feel bad or be embarrassed about.
Riding a bike is something that comes easier to some people than others but most people will get there eventually. The most important thing is to keep it enjoyable and try not to get stressed about it. I hope your DS is soon enjoying riding his bike.

malloryknox47 · 15/09/2020 07:35

Thanks all for the helpful comments and solidarity. Ive done a search and am disappointed to see that there is nothing local to me in terms of tuition for him. I did see that some schools do a Bikeability scheme in year 5/6 where I presume they learn to rise safely on roads but this would be a nightmare for ds as he would be mortified as most of his friends can already do it well.

Ironically I have actually tried the above YouTube clip a few months ago! Helped improve his balance a little but he certainly didn't learn to ride within an hour from it.

OP posts:
OakleyStreetisnotinChelsea · 15/09/2020 07:44

One of mine learned around that age, had point blank refused before then. A good bike makes a massive difference as they are much better balanced. I picked up a cube 2nd hand.

CherryLicious · 15/09/2020 07:45

My DS was the same. I bought a balance bike for his age/ size and he learned very quickly. Just in time to be adequate for Bikeability course at school! The bike was expensive but I've since loaned it to two families- their children learned very quickly.

caughtalightsneeze · 15/09/2020 07:48

My son is the same age as yours and also can not ride a bike. He has never even sat on a bike and tried. Interestingly he also, as a small child, never played on a tricycle or toy tractor or any sort of ride on toy. He just refused.

madcow88 · 15/09/2020 07:53

My DD has a balance bike from 2-5 years she was amazing on it. I bought her a normal bike and she feel off during learning and she refused to get back on it. I have only just convinced her to get back on a bike and she is age 9. I've always told she is able to ride a bike (white lie) as I thought when she did get on one she would feel confident to give it a try. She has just taught herself how to ride again, I think this was helped by all of her friends riding to the skate park. Don't give up hope, just be encouraging and try and give him confidence.

drspouse · 15/09/2020 07:58

Our council gym had sessions (in the huge sports hall) but only once in a while in the holidays so you had to look out for them.

newtb · 15/09/2020 08:11

DD struggled to learn, was about 8-9 when she cracked it. 2 things helped.

A scooter helped her to develop the skill to balance and the second was a family with 2 ds who moved opposite and the one about her age was whizzing around on his bike. That gave her the push she needed to persevere.

She never did anything unless she could see why - crawling, walking and talking. Riding a bike was just the same.

Sammysquiz · 15/09/2020 08:15

We had exactly the same situation, and found a course near us (Bristol) for older children who were learning to ride. It was excellent - there were about 5 children aged between 8-12 and all could ride by the end of the session.

malloryknox47 · 15/09/2020 14:48

Really struggling to find a course or tutor anywhere remotely close to us so looks like I'll have to carry on doing it myself Sad

OP posts:
BlackInk · 15/09/2020 14:56

Don't despair OP. My one achievement during lockdown was that my almost 11 year old finally got the hang of riding a bike! We've tried several times over the years, and he was a whizz on his balance bike as a toddler, but he just couldn't/wouldn't do it. He's always been clumsy and had bad balance, also doesn't like being out of control so hates slides, zip wires, fairground rides etc.
In the end I bribed him with cash, but I'm not sure whether that was key. He did it on concrete, whereas before we'd always tried on grass.
Your DS will probably get there too :)

MrsAvocet · 15/09/2020 15:01

Hi mallory if you would like to say vaguely what part of the country you are in, or to PM me that info I could ask in a couple of online coaching groups I am in.
Problem could be that a lot of places aren't running as normal because of Covid-19 and a lot of clubs start to wind down their kids sessions at this time of year even in normal circumstances. So you may have more luck in the Spring.I can't promise anything but if you'd like me to make enquiries I'm very happy to do so.

HereComesYourMam · 15/09/2020 15:06

You're not alone! My DS didn't learn until he was 10 - for years he just dug his heels in and refused to try. Eventually we took him to a bike track where there were volunteers on hand to give advice etc - after two or three sessions (and some bribery) we finally cracked it.

If you can't get any similar help, the two bits of advice that were total game changers for DS were:

  1. Sit up straight

2. Look ahead not down (2 helps with 1, and vice versa)
PaperMonster · 15/09/2020 15:08

My 9 year old can’t either. Well, she physically can but mentally she’s terrified. Been on a course and now she doesn’t trust people not to let go of her bike - so she just doesn’t go on it.

PaternosterLoft · 15/09/2020 15:13

The Bikeability in school was the trigger for my two to start. DD had 4 sessions with a bikeabilty coach but was cycling unaided after about 10 mins - from a flat refusal beforehand.

Ds however learnt on YouTube- we watched all sorts of videos but the one that got him goj g was the Pedrin Way We had hours of fun of me yelling "are you ready to ride a bike" at him because that's almost all it consists of Grin But it works!!!

ShinyGreenElephant · 15/09/2020 15:15

My DD was nearly 9 when she learned to ride a bike. Shes very sporty but just never showed an interest and at the time I was working so many hours and we had so much else going on that it never seemed a priority. Then her mates on the estate started going on bike rides and suddenly she was desperate to learn, and similarly to yourself refused to practice round our estate in case her friends laughed. My DH took her to a park a short drive away and taught her there, then when she felt a bit more confident she practiced on our estate, telling people she was just getting used to a new bike. Took a lot of perseverance on her part and I felt really guilty just like you, but shes 11 now and is better than many of her friends- once they've got it they've got it

Gingaaarghpussy · 15/09/2020 15:20

My ds is 15 and refuses to learn to ride a bike. Doesnt matter if I point out that he'd be more independent, like his friends etc. He never got the hang of a scooter either weirdo.
My other ds learnt to ride a bike by starting at the top of a gentle hill.

anditgoeson · 15/09/2020 15:24

My little boy is almost 9 and only learned to ride his bike over lockdown. He is very big for his age, he is a little bulky at the moment and he has some mi or mobility issues due to a congenital defect when he was born. He has a smaller foot and smaller muscles in his right leg than the other so anything requiring balance is a bit of a challenge.

It was really really hard to get him going. His bike is also too small for him and he is too heavy for it really but I just persevered and he did too with some coaxing! I took him to the park every day (luckily there is one close to us) and we just did a little every day.

It was hard to keep him up right at times but I managed it briefly and enough eventually to keep him going.

Just a case of 'getting back on the bike'as they say each and every time.

Good luck, he will get it eventually I'm sure.

JoanJosephJim · 15/09/2020 15:24

Ds was 7, we just took the pedals off put him at the top of a slight slope at a park (away from our home) and let him balance it until he ran out of momentum, repeated that several times to make sure he could balance.

Then we put the pedals on, put his feet on the pedals at the half way round so his legs were fairly level, then we pushed him gently down the slope again so he was now balancing with his feet just on the pedals, no actual pedalling.

Did that again and again, then finally got him to do the pedal action.

My MIL learned to ride a bike when she was 28, in the cul-de-sac with her own children and all the other children and parents cheering her on.

sueelleker · 15/09/2020 15:55

I'm in my 60's and can't ride a bike; I've got a very poor sense of balance. Does he have problems with balancing generally?

HolyForkinShirt · 15/09/2020 16:06

Our local children centre used to offer lessons. I seem to remember them being very reasonably priced. May be worth a look.

LemonBreeland · 15/09/2020 16:15

I have taught all of my DC the same way. One learned at 4, one was 6 and the youngest was almost 8 as she was stubborn.

Find a short slope to go down and have him balance using his feet. Keep going down the slope and when he gets used to it have him lift his legs to go down. This will help him get the balance part. Next I got them to put their feet on the pedals and put them down when they got to the bottom of the slope. Lastly they put their feet on the pedals and start peddling at the bottom of the slope and keep going as much as they can. I used a grassy slope as they feel more secure.

Mine did all learn to ride in an hour.

Oblomov20 · 15/09/2020 16:43

I booked Ds2 onto a one hour course with a bloke called Jonathan near me. It was so worth it. Sorted.

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