Toddler Trike Training
July 20, 2015 11:43 AM   Subscribe

I just bought my 2.5 year old a small trike. He could use a little help learning to pedal. Tips/tricks or just let him figure it out on his own eventually? The goal is for him to be able to ride it around inside in the winter. Plus his little legs could really use some strength work.

He was diagnosed with low muscle tone when he was younger and he still has little toothpick legs. I am not interested in a balance bike. I specifically bought this for him to exercise his leg muscles. I don't want to push him to learn if he isn't ready, but I don't mind a little coaching as long as it doesn't end up frustrating him to the point where he rejects it completely. He likes to sit on it and will rock with his feet on the pedals, so he is at least enjoying the new toy aspect.

So, how do I teach him to pedal or do I not teach him and let him work it out?
posted by MayNicholas to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have him leave his feet on the pedals while you give him little pushes so he can get used to connecting foot movement and trike movement. As soon as his feet go off the pedals, you stop pushing.

I was slow in figuring out all of my locomotor development and I got to hear all about how my dad had to do this kind of thing for me as I was growing up. This was one of them. (He also belted me to a skateboard when I couldn't figure out how to crawl on my own.)

He'll figure it out! Don't worry too much if he takes his good sweet time about it.
posted by phunniemee at 11:53 AM on July 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Don't try too hard. If he's rocking it, he's getting the idea. Maybe take him someplace with a very slight downslope so he can actually make it go forward all by himself.
posted by beagle at 11:55 AM on July 20, 2015

You could try adding pedal foot straps-
posted by myselfasme at 12:04 PM on July 20, 2015

Since he is a boy, he loves to race. Is there a playground in your area where he can meet other kids on trikes? Seeing other kids doing it, makes him want to do it. Trikes are awesome, he'll spend many hours racing and you... running.
posted by ouke at 12:15 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would just leave it out so that he has access to it and can play around on it all he wants to. He'll be zooming through the halls in no time!

And, btw, girls love to race too.
posted by dawkins_7 at 12:22 PM on July 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

What Phunniemee said, with the proviso, GO VERY SLOWLY AT FIRST. At first it is not cycling, it is very basic motor training. As soon as he gets the idea, he will go fast enough.

I have to caution you about Beagle's recommendation. Teach the boy to pedal AND TO SLOW DOWN THE TRIKE WITH THE PEDALS. As you push him slowly from behind, he will get how to pedal AND how to slow down the pedals. Putting him on a downslope too soon will be terrifying if he doesn't know how to control his speed.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:36 PM on July 20, 2015

My son is almost 4. He's had a big wheel, and then a trike, since he was about 2.5. It's just maybe in the last few months that he's gotten the hang of the pedals. When I realized that he was just not there, developmentally, to actively learn how to pedal, I would occasionally put his feet on the pedals and push him gently, urging him to keep his feet on the pedals. He wasn't able to even do that for a while, and slowly that skill came about. His abilities improved once he learned to keep his feet on the pedals and not have them slip off. You could try pedal footstraps as mentioned above - we didn't try that but it might help him create muscle memory on that front.

Other than that, I just let him tool around. Scooting around with his feet was actually a bit of a workout on his legs. If the trike is too tall for him to reach the floor, maybe consider a big wheel, which sits close to the ground. The leg placement is more like a recumbent bike so maybe pushing forward, instead of down, might be easier.

As with anything else, practice makes perfect, and if he has a chance to tool around on the trike on his own terms it will be more likely that he will want to use the trike in the first place, therefore increasing his practice time. Have fun!
posted by DrGirlfriend at 12:50 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

We put the feet on the pedals right at the start of "trike time" when we got it out to play with, and we would work with our uncoordinated child to use the pedals for a minute or two, helping him figure it out and pushing the trike so it moved as he moved his feet. Then we'd be like "yay! Good pedalling!" and go read a book and let him run it around with his feet (his much-preferred method). Slowly, over time, he started attempting pedaling on his own and eventually switched to all-pedalling as he got stronger and more coordinated and realized he could go a lot faster. But he probably spent a year only propelling himself with his feet, and perfectly happy doing it that way. We just demonstrated and helped him pedal every time we got the trike out, but just briefly and as a form of play, never interfering with his own play of racing around.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:09 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

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