The trials and tribulations of teaching a three-year-old how to ride a bike

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FOR weeks now we have been trying to encourage our son to learn to pedal forwards instead of backwards.

Last year for his third birthday we bought him his first proper bike complete with stabilisers. He had seemed very keen on the pedal go-karts at nursery, so we assumed he would be happy to have his own bike.

So we went along to a well known bicycle store and let him have his choice of bike. After we gently persuaded him away from the bubblegum pink one complete with tassels on the handlebars, he eventually plumped for a dark blue bike with pictures of moons and stars all over it. We also managed to find a matching cycle helmet.

The store agreed to put the bike together, including the stabilisers, for us, which was a good thing as had it been left up to my partner or I am I sure the handlebars would have been fitted where the wheels were meant to be and our son would still be waiting for his bike to ride.

The next sunny weekend we all trundled out to the local park. Our eldest daughter had that year learned to ride her bike without stabilisers and was very pleased with herself as she cycled off shouting over her shoulder that she would be back later. We fitted our son into his helmet and carefully lowered him into the saddle and then let go, expecting him to follow us as we walked with the youngest in the buggy.

Instead he just sat their wailing “Someone push me please.” Thinking he just needed a bit of encouragement, we obediently pushed him on a bit hoping he would then get the hang of the pedals and start going forwards of his own accord.

Instead he started pedalling the wrong way, getting no grip on path at all and staying firmly where he was. And despite many sessions in the park to try and persuade him how to pedal, he still manages very little movement of his own. Even trying him at the top of a hill was no use as he just free-wheeled down, coming to a sudden stop at the bottom causing him to flip over the handlebars. I think he is still traumatised by this event even now. That and the fact I once fell into a hedge with him on the back as I cycled down a country lane while on holiday in France.

It was not my fault – there was a sudden turn in the road and I hadn’t quite compensated for the extra weight I was now carrying behind me! The fact he insisted on kicking me with his feet the entire journey and that I was not particularly used to travelling by bike with kids on board, may have also had something to do with it.

His fourth birthday is coming round next week and we have decided to give him a two-wheeler scooter, hoping that will improve his balance. Then we hope he might just be able to get to grips with pedalling forwards before he grows out of his bike and it is passed on to the baby.

Cycling is not only a healthy way to travel but for many in the city it is the quickest way to get to work. Now Sheffield City Council in conjunction with Bike Boost is offering a free trial of bikes and accessories so people can see if it is for them.

For more information visit: http://www.bikeboost.org/pages/about