Remembering training wheels

I shared a post about training wheels three years back.


Training wheels sound so great in concept. After all, they remove all the risk from learning to ride a bike.

But, they don’t work.

It turns out that removing all the risk of losing balance doesn’t teach us the most important ability required to ride a bike – how to balance. And, that, in turn, also means we don’t actually learn to ride the bike. Worse, it hinders our ability to learn without training wheels.

Risk and reward go together. Falling down is an important part of learning. And, we only make progress when we embrace the possibility of a fall.

Why, then, do we use training wheels? Fear of failure.

And, that’s thanks to a misunderstanding. You see, failure is not the falling down, it is the staying down.


I remembered this post as we began teaching our kids how to ride bikes 3 weeks ago. We used training wheels just to show our older child how much fun pedaling a bike could be.

We then took away the training wheels, pedals, and let her use her bike as a balance bike. She started by walking with it, progressed to quick strides, and soon figured she could rest between strides by balancing.

A few days later, we added the pedals back today and away she went.

Risk, doing, falling, learning, progress.

They all go together.