I have been woefully negligent, and have not yet taught my 6 year-old how to ride a bike without training wheels.
Any suggestions on how best to do this whilst minimizing angst and/or pain?
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There's a bike precursor, called something like the "balancing bike," more popular in Europe. It's like a bike w/o pedals, and the kid uses his feet - fred flinstone style - to propel himself. They learn how to balance and steer, without having to worry about pedaling first. Supposedly, it's much easier to move from that to a real bike, than to go from training wheels to no training wheels. YMMV.
Give you 6 year old a loose reign. Let her be comfortable with the trainers - and she probably will find her balance quickly. Then you can remove the extra wheels and let her go. Scrapes heal and confidence soars.
Both of my kids can ride bikes, and I don't remember having to do too much "teaching" to get rid of the training wheels.
I think all we did was remove the wheels, put one hand on the bike seat and ran next to them. IIRC (dangerous assumption, sometimes!), they picked it up pretty quickly. Maybe inside of an hour? I just don't remember it being a hassle. (My kids are 17 and 19, so this was a long time ago!)
I think the key is whether the child thinks he/she is ready and can do it. Is your child asking you to take them off? If so, he/she will learn quickly. Children are amazingly capable when they think they can do something. The corollary is that they are completely incapable of something if they think they can't. If your child is apprehensive, you might spare yourself and your child some agony until they are convinced they want to learn to ride without training wheels.
I'm of no help in this discussion. I've actually never learned how to ride a bike. 21 years old and still clueless as to how to do it.
I would start by teaching her to ride a unicycle. Once she can do that, the transition to a bike is pretty easy. Plus, no guilt in waiting until 6 to teach here the unicycle -- actually ahead of the curve there.
I progressively raised the training wheels.
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