The tendency to over-protect children can backfire in lots of ways. Keeping kids cloistered indoors means they don’t learn how to navigate traffic, how to identify a well-meaning stranger or how to play with their peers without an adult taking control. The same may apply to learning to ride a bike. A landmark moment for any parent is buying that first bicycle and slapping on thestabilizers (training wheels)to support the child. But do children actually need that support? And do stabilizers really help them learn how to cycle? Maybe not. Recently, pre-school teachers in London noticed that even children under three were able to balance on two wheels if given half a chance and that they learned better as a result. They also developed more strength, stamina and balance. Said one teacher:”We might be wrong but at every stage we found that what holds them back was not them but us.”To prove the point, one London borough is now running an experiment where kids are given small wooden bikes with no pedals and their progress is monitored. We’ll have to wait for the results but I can already report that at least one two-year-old has almost mastered cycling without stabilizers. He’s the one that ran over my foot in the Battersea Park on the weekend.