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When the Child Won't Ride: Getting Children Accustomed to Motorized Riding Toys

Aug 17, 2007
friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, recently went all out at Christmas time to buy her child the latest and most expensive motorized outdoor riding toy she could find; a John Deere jeeplike toy with a driver's seat and a passenger seat and a space in the back to carry toys or anything else that caught the child's fancy. The parents knew the kid loved John Deere, so they thought he would love his little riding toy. The problem was, after spending all this money on this expensive toy, the kid wouldn't ride it. In fact, he didn't want anything to do with it. What's a parent to do in a case like that?

Not every child will have this problem, of course, but it's a pretty good bet that if it's the first time a child has had a motorized riding toy, it's going to scare him at first. While you and I might not think of a child's riding toy as particularly powerful, think about it from the point of view of the child for a moment. This vehicle is moving forward on some power other than his; it isn't as easy for a young child to connect 'let off on the accelerator' with 'stop' as it is for him to connect 'stop pushing this scooter' with 'stop', for instance. If a child gets into a motorized toy without knowing exactly what it will do, how to make it do it, and how to make it stop doing it, the child is going to feel that the toy is out of control (even if it's only 'out of control' at two miles an hour and you're right there with him), and he's going to be a little frightened.

The best cure, of course, is prevention; take the time to explain to him what it will do, how to make it go, how to make it stop, what kind of noise it will make, how fast it will go, et cetera. You may wish to have the child sit in the passenger seat and use your hand to press the accelerator to begin with, until they can see how pushing down makes it go and letting off makes it stop. If you could somehow drive it the first time and have the child in the passenger seat watching you, that would be best, but unfortunately, that isn't really possible.

If the child has already tried to ride it on their own, though, and been so scared that they won't touch it, it will probably take time to get them used to it so that they feel comfortable enough to try again. Encourage the child to just sit in the toy without moving at all; have them make 'motor sounds' and perhaps turn the steering wheel. Next, have them sit in the toy while you push it. Again, have them make motor noises (and make them with them if you possibly can) and turn the steering wheel. Demonstrate, first with them watching from the sidelines and later with them in the passenger seat, how pushing the accelerator makes it go and letting off makes it stop. And above all, be patient with them. Eventually, in their own good time, the child will feel comfortable enough with the toy to want to try it on his own. And once he does, it's a good bet that he won't stop.
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